At the Mercy of Neptune, Charles H. Grant, Oswego New York, Cloning Neptune Cloning Neptune

Introduction to "Cloning Neptune"


For many years I was a concept artist for the space program, painting the future of space travel and interstellar exploration. Recently I’ve become intrigued with the great marine painters of the 1800s, the artists of exploration in their day.

In particular, I am drawn to the painters that were born in Oswego, New York, who became nationally recognized artists for their work. Many who now live in Oswego are unaware of the talent that this area produced in the late 19th century, artists such as James G. Tyler and Charles H. Grant. My desire is to inspire others by recognizing and celebrating these kindred spirits.

I will embark upon an ambitious project this summer in Oswego, where I will be recreating a full scale replica of Charles Henry Grant’s seminal work, “At the Mercy of Neptune.” This 9ft by 5ft marine painting seems to have been lost to the depths of time, but through rare photos and other related works, I will use the techniques of both Mr. Grant and his instructor, the famous Dutch-American master marine painter, Mauritz Frederick Hendrik de Haas to reconstruct this masterpiece.



de Haas, At the Mercy of Neptune, Cloning Neptune Interestingly, Grant and his instructor both created paintings titled "At the Mercy of Neptune". Here you see the students version inset against his instructors.

Grant was born in Oswego in 1866. He became inspired to paint at an early age and became a student of de Haas at The National Academy of Design in New York City. Grant later moved to San Francisco, where he gained much notoriety for his marine paintings. He then traveled with the United States Navy as their official artists when the fleet sailed to Australia in 1925.

“At the Mercy of Neptune” was first displayed in 1896 on Bridge St. in Oswego: at my great grandfather W. R. Shayes’ art gallery and photography studio.  The painting was seriously damaged in a mysterious gallery fire later that year. The repaired painting was shown at the New York State Fair in 1897 and received rave reviews. The painting was eventually purchased by a prominent judge named L.C. Rowe and hung in his residence in Oswego for many years until his death in 1928. It was bequeathed to his wife Emma and from there, its fate is uncertain.

The H. Lee White Marine Museum has agreed to allow me to paint the reproduction in residence at their facility this summer. The finished painting will be donated and Oswego will be its permanent home.

In conjunction with this ambitious project, I will give presentations about these artists to interested groups. I also desire to arrange an art show of marine pieces by local artists, children artists, and works of these 19th century artists.
Art is an essential ingredient to a healthy community and can be a strong economic driver. It is important to encourage all ages to express their creativity, and this project will do just that while educating through truly inspiring historical figures from Oswego County.

The Barbaro-Gould Foundation, a not for profit 501(c)(3), whose mission is to facilitate the global exchange of culture through art, is assisting me in raising funds for this project. All donations through Barbaro-Gould are tax deductible.

I'm offering several premiums for different levels of donation:

Bronze:  $50.00 donation
•    A project poster personally signed by the artist
•    A thank you letter with a short project description
•    A ticket to the grand opening event in Oswego


Silver: $100.00 donation
•    9 x 12 signed limited addition art print on high quality paper of the recreated “At the Mercy of Neptune”
•    A certificate of authenticity
•    A thank you letter with a short project description
•    Two tickets to the grand opening event in Oswego

Gold:  $500.00 donation
•    11 x 14 signed giclée print on canvas of the recreated “At the Mercy of Neptune”
•    A certificate of authenticity
•    A thank you letter with a short project description
•    Two VIP tickets to the grand opening event in Oswego, including a question and answer session with the artist

Platnum:  $1000.00 donation
•    11 x 14 signed enhanced giclée print on canvas of the recreated “At the Mercy of Neptune”
•    A certificate of authenticity
•    A thank you letter with a short project description
•    Eight VIP tickets to the grand opening event in Oswego, including a question and answer session with the artist

Donations can be made by check to (please indicate Cloning Neptune on the note section of your check):
The Barbaro-Gould Foundation, Inc.
1211 Hamlet Avenue, Studio D
Clearwater, FL 33756

813-602-ART2 (2782)

I look forward to hearing from you and appreciate your support.

Hope to see you at the museum this summer.

Don Gillespie


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Background on my 2014 Art Show at The H. Lee White Marine Museum in Oswego NY. "Kindred Spirits and other relative mysteries" was the inspiration for Cloning Neptune.

William R. Shayes, Photographer, Oswego New York, William R. Shayes, Photographer, late 1800s

A Selfie found from the late 1800s

This August, 2014 is the last month of my Kindred Spirits art show at the H. Lee White Marine Museum in Oswego, New York. The show was inspired by my long lost Great Grand Father W. R. Shayes. He was an Artist, Photographer, Gallery Owner, and Avid Cyclist. The whole experience has been a bit strange and to top it off this afternoon a picture was found in an attic of him looking happy and proud. I didn’t know of this photo until today and I know of only one other  in existence. He was usually behind the camera instead of in front of it.


May 17th - August 31st 2014 at the H. Lee White Marine Museum, Oswego, New York

Cloning Neptune, W.R. Shayes, Oswego History 2014 Art Exhibit

My “Kindred Spirits” exhibit celebrates Oswego, New York’s rich art heritage. Unbeknownst to many, during the late 19th century, this town produced two prominent Marine painters as well as several artists who pioneered what was at that time the new art of photography. As an artist, I have found these individuals and the stories surrounding them to be fascinating. During that time period, the port was filled with tall sailing ships, which inspired their work.

Oswego Harbor

James G. Tyler was born in Oswego in 1855 and began painting at age 15. He later moved to New York City and studied to become one of the most notable marine artists of his time. Tyler Hall is the center for fine arts at SUNY Oswego, named after James G. Tyler.

James G. Tyler Painting owned by the H. Lee White Marine Museum

Charles H. Grant, also from Oswego, was born in 1866. Grant painted his first seascape at age 8. He went on to study under the great M.F.H. De Haas at the National Academy in New York. He later moved to San Francisco, CA and gained international notoriety.

Charles H. Grant Painting owned by Don Gillespie

More obscure but just as interesting, are the Photographers of Oswego in the late 1800s. Located at 23 & 25 West Bridge Street was a gallery owned by William R. Shayes who at the time was a good friend of Charles H. Grant. Mr. Shayes, who was an artist in his own right, employed many artists to enhance his photographs with detail and color. His studio also produced etchings and watercolors. The Gallery was 2nd to none and displayed Grants works as well as statuary such as a 7ft Marble reproduction of the Venus de Milo. I’m sure Shayes would have gone on to great fame in the art world but this is where the mystery begins.

William R. Shayes Photographer William R. Shayes

Shayes began his photography business in 1892 and within a year purchased W.R. Nesbit's studio. In 1894 he began showing his work with C.H. Grant. In 1896 he renovated his gallery and studio making it "one of the finest in New York State not exempting New York City itself". He opened the gallery in March with great fanfare but in late September of that same year, the gallery burned. The fire severely damaged the studio and gallery as well as one of C.H.Grant's major paintings, "At the Mercy of Neptune".

William R. Shayes Missing William R. Shayes Missing

In the spring of 1896 Shayes was implicated in the scandalous divorce trial of William and Stella Fletcher. The news coverage of the trial damaged his reputation and dragged on for several years. By 1898 Shayes had vanished without a trace. His wife and family tried to locate him, even hiring the Pinkerton Agency, but he was never found.

At the Mercy of Neptune Painting Only Known Photograph of "At the Mercy of Neptune" by C.H.Grant

Another mystery surrounding "Kindred Spirts" is the location of the nine foot by six foot painting that hung in Shayes' gallery called "At the Mercy of Neptune" by C.H.Grant. This painting was said by Grant to be his finest painting. After the fire the painting was restored and hung in an exhibition at the 1897 New York State Fair. Judge L.C Rowe, who passed away in 1928, then purchased the painting. In his will “At the Mercy of Neptune” was left to his wife Emma who passed away in 1955.  I have not been able to locate the original but have repainted a smaller version which in no way captivates the grandeur of the original but may represent it enough to help raise the original from the depths of time.

Repaint of "At the Mercy of Neptune" by Don Gillespie Repaint of "At the Mercy of Neptune" by Don Gillespie

The exhibit includes an original painting by both Tyler and Grant. My version of “At the Mercy of Neptune” as well as other marine paintings I have produced will also be on display. There is also one of my Surrealist paintings that depict W.R. Shayes and events surrounding his disappearance. My hope is that this show in Oswego at the H. Lee White Marine Museum from May 17th to Aug. 31st will help educate Oswegonians concerning this rich art heritage and possibly help shed light upon a couple mysteries. Including what may have happened to W. R. Shayes, who happens to be my great grandfather.


For more reading about W.R. Shayes read this PDF


Don Gillespie



Donate to "Cloning Neptune" here:

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Cloning Neptune is honored to be sponsored by Winsor & Newton,

“ The World's Finest Art Materials”

Kindred Spirits Art Exhibit -

May 17th to August 31st 2014 at the H. Lee White Marine Museum Oswego, New York.

Supporting Education

Here are 2 fine art canvas giclee prints of my paintings which will be auctioned at the 2014 Annual 1812 Lynx Fundraiser event on March 8th at the St. Petersbug Yacht Club, St. Pete, FL.

A BIG THANK YOU to Jerri and Scott Menaul of The Canvas Zoo for these excellent Fine Art Canvas Giclees .

Vinoy Renaissance Hotel, Don Gillespie Painting Painting in the Lobby of the Vinoy Renaissance Hotel, St.Pete Fl.

September 30th 1898, My great grandfather's gallery burned. Learn more...

Detail from Don Gillespie Painting entitled HOPE Detail of Hope

Homeless Project

This series of transparent watercolors were created to help raise funds for the homeless in Tampa. Click here to view more

Airborne Rangers

Recently finished commission.

Welcome to the on-line gallery of Don Gillespie. This collection of paintings represents a life of art. They are unique visions created with traditional brush and paint. Art is a vehicle which helps us gain a better understanding of ourselves, our dreams and aspirations. It helps us to understand our world and to put it into perspective. The artist hopes that they inspire you to pick up a brush or whatever vehicle you prefer and travel beyond the surface.