One of North America's leading maritime artists, Jack L. Gray was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia on 28th April 1927, the only child of Samuel William Gray, a civil engineer. As a child, he was fascinated with boats and spent much of his time sketching the every day traffic of the docks in his native Halifax. This early passion for art led to him enrolling firstly at the Nova Scotia College of Art, Halifax, and then at the Montreal Museum of Fine Art, whilst spending many of his summers at sea with the Lunenburg fishing fleet. Later, one of his favourite subjects which he painted time and time again was the celebrated Lunenburg fishing schooner Bluenose.
Spending much of his early career living on board boats in Nova Scotia, in the mid 1950s, he moved to New York City, where he was represented by several major New York art galleries. In 1959, Gray moved to Winterport, Maine on the banks of the Penobscot River, where according to critics, he painted some of his best works. However, by 1961 he was back in the Marlborough Woods area of Halifax, where he purchased a property with a dock for his boat. It was during this time that his work came to the attention of the newly-elected President, John F. Kennedy. Gray visited the White House in 1962 to present Kennedy with one of his paintings entitled 'Dressing Down, the Gully' (now residing in The Kennedy Memorial Collection, Newport News, Virginia) and from that moment on his reputation soared.
In 1965, Gray moved to West Palm Beach, Florida, where he strengthened his relationships with the galleries on Palm Beach's Worth Avenue. However, he never forgot his beloved Nova Scotia and maintained a summer hideaway there where he continued to sketch his favourite subject, inshore fishermen in small boats. He died in West Palm Beach on 4th September 1981 and his ashes were scattered at sea off the entrance to Lunenburg Bay, Nova Scotia, from the decks of a fishing boat.
His attention to technical detail and realistic approach in the present work is testament to his striking knowledge of the sea with its beauty and ever changing nature and man's inherent struggle to conquer it.