An extremely rare subject, leisure time activity from the age of American Sail, has a man of lower station tending to four very young dogs along the gunwale. The detail of his uniform places the young man as a member of the merchant marine and able-bodied sailor. It is his ship shown in the upper vignette, running under sail and a slightest wisp of steam pushing from before the main mast. Rather unusual is the placement of the American Flag atop this same mast, rather than in one of its customary placements.
The detail of the deck and gunwale is nicely detailed with the ropes and belaying pins, and the laced dead-eyes above the rail. The natural wood grain of the panel is employed by the unknown artist in the look of the wooden ship. Some of the wood grain is carefully applied oil. A coastal cutter is featured as well, off a large Victorian estate house at the shore of a rather extreme elevation headland.
So back to the featured stars: four puppies in expressive states of raw excitement, dueling with their meal onboard. The alpha is being held back by the barefoot sailor, to give the others a good shot at the obviously tough fare. They have the look of hounds, a touch somewhere between greyhounds and boxers perhaps. Ridding the ships of vermin was their primary job, along with assisting the watch for activities in ports and the rogue flair-up at sea among the crew. This bit of nautical folk-art, for lack of a more precise classification, is an nice small window of aesthetic light into our past.
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