The Maritime History Art Collection comprises of paintings, etchings, watercolours and other art works representing maritime scenes and subjects, particularly ship portraits, that relate to Western Australian maritime history, or Western Australian maritime history in the context of the Indian Ocean.
The collection contains artworks created by people with maritime professions or backgrounds. For example: there is a collection of watercolours, pastels and oils by E J Miller (principally of the Fremantle pilot boat Lady Forrest), Miller was Fremantle Harbour Master in the 1900s; and also a collection of works from Captain George Andrew Duncan Forsyth who was Chief Harbour Master at Fremantle in the 1870s.
Artworks include those created by people during their voyages to Western Australia, such as works painted by Captain Charles Russell on his voyage from England to Fremantle where he was Harbour Master.
There is a series of artworks of regional ports by well-known local artist, Frank Norton, commissioned for the State Shipping Service in the 1950s as well as sketches of Asian watercraft that he did before 1939.
The collection includes artworks by Aboriginal artists such as Flash Jack’s oil of the Blue Funnel ship Centaur. Jack painted the artwork for a nurse who had served on Centaur during World War II before it was bombed by the Japanese in Morton Bay, Queensland.
George Pitt Morrison, early director of the Western Australian Art Gallery, is also represented by a stylised image of the deck, funnels and sails of the auxiliary steam ship, Parramatta in July 1890.