This beautifully detailed and proportioned ship portrait is the earliest known surviving work by the artist, but undoubtedly, it is far from the first he painted. It has such professional styling and bearing the commander’s name, B. Pittman and as such was almost assuredly a direct commission. The only other known work held in a public collection compares favorably - Bark ELLEN Passing Elsinore Castle - is in the Collection of the Peabody Essex Museum of Salem. Undoubtably others exist in private European and American collections. The Danish Castle made famous in Shakespeare’s Hamlet is unmistakable as the headland setting.
MOSCOW was built by the Portland, Maine yard of David Spear and Son, circa 1830. She originally was rigged as a full ship and weighed 300 tons. Her configuration here is after conversion to a bark, with her identity not only twice written by the artist, but shown in the Boston Flag Code high on the mizzen mast, a pre-cursor to the developing International Merchant Flag Codes. MOSCOW served as an Atlantic Packet for a succession of Boston owners, as is most remembered under the command of Captain William Dane Phelps, when he sailed her to San Francisco and came home to much fanfare in 1849 with one of the first barrels of California gold.
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