Madonna and Naval Ship Painting

In 2005, I successfully bid on this painting on eBay. The painting was said to have been bought at a Long Island estate sale of a retired naval officer named Johnson. The ship was described as being a World War II picket ship, but there’s no sign of a picket’s typical radar towers on deck. Subsequent to my purchase, some have suggested that the ship is a destroyer. I was interested in the painting because of the image of the Madonna (in her aspect of Our Lady of Grace) hovering in the sky—it appears to be an ex-voto, an offering made in gratitude for heavenly intercession. The painting arrived slightly damaged, but luckily I had insured the delivery and in order to collect I needed to have the restoration work assessed. The restorer told me a curious fact: The image of the Madonna had been painted after the naval ship was done. So, what was the story behind this work? A sailor returns from war and, thankful for his reprieve from death, asks a painter to insert the image of the Virgin Mary into a painting of a Navy ship? We will never know, but I am thankful that this little miracle found its way to me.

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