Beyond the Frame: Will They or Won’t They?

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“Rescue of the Crew of the USS Monitor by USS Rhode Island, December 31, 1862” William Richardson Tyler, 1892. Oil on Canvas. 2018.0005.000001

The piercing moonlight emanates from the canvas like a siren song, calling you closer, pulling you in as you approach this piece. The wind whips around you, the clouds envelop you, the waves engulf you – there seems to be no escape – it’s too late.

The Power of Light

Personally, I’m a sucker for chiaroscuro – It’s that intense contrast of darkness and light that creates drama in a work of art. It’s what drew me to this piece in the first place. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it. I loved the darkness, the drama, the fact that – for a civil war painting, it wasn’t really “civil war-ish”. Looking at this work, “Rescue of the Crew of the USS Monitor by USS Rhode Island, December 31, 1862” by artist William Richardson Tyler is an experience best enjoyed over a few minutes, at least.    Read more

Beyond The Frame: The Secret Ingredient

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“Violent Squall on the Adriatic”, Edward WIlliam Cooke. Oil on Canvas, 1856. 1982.0037.000002, The Mariners’ Museum and Park.

I’ve always believed that society is like a skeleton and that art is a soul. And within the art world, there are pieces that have a way of making a lasting impression; the artist has added something special – like the secret ingredient in a loved one’s cooking – that unique element you can’t quite put your finger on.

I think that’s why, when you look at Edward William Cooke’s 1856 painting, “Violent Squall on the Adriatic”, it becomes so much more than a painting of a fishing boat, instead it comes to life and plays out like the dramatic climax of a movie.    Read more

Beyond the Frame: Happy Place

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“Gloucester Inner Harbor” Fitz H. Lane, 1850, Oil On canvas.1946.0830.000001 Photo: Brock Switzer/The Mariners’ Museum and Park

The setting sun casts the last of its delicate golden rays over the Gloucester Inner Harbor, bringing an end to the day’s work. The harbor is filled with boats, but at low tide, many of them list lazily in the water or on shore as if they’ve been tucked up for the evening, the workers finishing their tasks, surely getting ready to head home after a long day. The sunset is rich and warm and the sky fades from the last bits of periwinkle blue to a cozy red dappled with gold. 

Where to Begin?

When I first began working on this series, I met with Jeanne, our Director of Collections Management, to ask her if she might show me some of her favorite pieces from the collection. I knew that, although my journey into the collection was really just beginning, she had years of experience with it! As she pulled out rack after rack of paintings, I scribbled down accession numbers and while there were so many pieces that I knew I wanted to talk about, there was one that really stuck with me for a number of reasons.    Read more