Object Image

Whaler off the Vineyard--Outward Bound

William Bradford is best known for his paintings of the Arctic, but his early work focused on the ships of New England. He grew up near New Bedford, Massachusetts, which was home to a successful whaling industry. In this image, he painted a large whaling ship with a smaller schooner sailing in the foreground, and the cliffs of Gay Head, Martha's Vineyard, in the background. This area was the standard route for whalers entering and leaving the port of New Bedford. Bradford emphasized the smallest details in this sweeping seascape, from the ripples in the sails to the suspenders on the sailors.

Credit: Museum purchase

1859
Oil on fiberboard
40.7 x 61.0cm
1978.72
Image and text: Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2024

Where you'll find this

Smithsonian American Art Museum