Three whaleboats launched from the large American Whaling Ship are on the hunt in this narrative scrimshaw scene by a 19th Century sailor. Flying a two-tone, four-quartered flag with a large “B”, the vessel’s identity is directly related to the discovery of this signal’s owner. Done on a finely procured panel of panbone from the lower jaw of a Sperm Whale, the ship’s are nicely detailed and proportioned, while still very much sailor-made folk art.
The sea is varied with a small chop of varied density and length, and the artisan who scribed the scene was concerned about the portrayal of distance and scale. Standing the right hand hunting boat, a harpoon holds his weapon at the ready, with more than a single target close by, while the other boats work to row to position, each with a helmsman steering the effort.
In an age where the modernization of the whaling industry was constantly advancing, to bow-mounted Greener Harpoon guns and bomb lance rifles, it is rare to find the depiction of a hand-throw harpoon being employed. The ship is extremely well presented, with a tight detail, and the figures are nicely proportionate and drawn in a primitive folk art style. The added age of the panel itself, with the extreme curvature due to it drying over the past two centuries makes this an attractive and unusual art work of American whaling.
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