Like many artists in history, most of what is known about Isiah Whyte comes from his surviving paintings. Whyte was a maritime painter working out of Boston in the early 19th Century. Nearly all his paintings were ship’s portraits of famous American Naval vessels including Revolutionary War Ship BONHOMME RICHARD and the War of 1812’s U.S.S. ESSEX.
Whyte’s paintings were either watercolors on paper or reverse paintings on glass. In the latter, the artist applies paint to a piece of glass which is then turned over and viewed through the other side. The technique dates back to the middle ages, particularly in central Europe, but was primarily seen in ship’s portraits of the mid-19th century. Whyte was one of the earliest to adopt the reverse glass technique in maritime painting.
Works by Isiah Whyte are in the Collections of:
Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts
Art Institute of Chicago
Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, Hyde Park, New York
Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library, Winterthur, Delaware
among other private and public collections worldwide.