This excellent example of German ship portraiture shows the 577-ton American barque WHITE SEA, built by Joseph Dyer on the Cape in Portland Maine near the Ferry Slip. WHITE SEA was the only barque Joseph built in the years from 1851-56, alongside the ships KATE DYER, PERSEVERANCE, BAMBERG, CORINTHIAN and later the United States Government’s Gunboat KINEO. Her captain, listed as Joseph Evans in 1859, has the American vessel underway near the coast of Heligoland, right off the mouth of the Elbe River.
German marine painter Heinrich Andreas Sophus Petersen has colorfully portrayed the Maine-built Bark wearing the American pilot jack at her foretop, requesting the local navigators’ assistance. Her name pennant flies at the main and her Dyer Family house flag is shown on her mizzen mast. Heligoland Island is before her bow, while a famous Elbe Pilot Schooners is circling behind her to land the pilot.
Heligoland was the off-shore station for schooners whose pilots guided vessels up and down the Elbe River to the Port of Hamburg. Petersen has crisply recorded in this composition the majestic ship, the important North Sea landmark of Heligoland Island and a local German pilot schooner, all under the watch of dark-suited Captain Evans and his working crew.
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