The skillful combination of beautiful sky, picturesque background and accurately rendered vessel make this work an excellent example of the artistic ship portrait style of James Bard. The WILLIAM HARRISON is portrayed decked out with four prominent American flags and her gilded Pilot House Carved Eagle as she makes her way up the Hudson River.
This work concentrates fully on presenting an undistracted image of the steamboat, showing no passengers, a device Bard used throughout the later and most important period of his career. Note the classic perspective that draws the eye unerringly to the center of the composition and the use of tiny white dots making up the spray off the bow and paddlewheel to show movement. The original paint is in such excellent condition that the detailed touches of raised, thick oil are visible to the eye and the flags, windows, eagle, and elsewhere.
The 377.67 ton WILLIAM HARRISON [153'LOA x 26.2'B x 8.8D] was built at Keyport, New Jersey in 1864 by Benjamin Terry for C.W. Copeland of the Citizens Transportation Company. The vessel's namesake, William Harrison, owner of the company that fabricated her vertical beam steam engine, was the original owner of this painting.
Provenance: William Harrison, 1865; Mrs. Bodine (Harrison's Granddaughter; Mariner's Museum, Newport News, 1941; Private Mid-West Collection.
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