Hampton Roads Invaded: The Anglo-Dutch Naval Wars

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Tobacco Farming in Virginia, ca. 1650. Sidney E. King, artist, public domain. Courtesy of National Park Service.

During the colonial era European conflicts often spilled over into colonies along the Atlantic seaboard. Caribbean islands produced sugar; Southern Atlantic colonies produced cotton, tobacco, and ship stores; and the Northern Atlantic colonies were famous for furs and lumber. As the Europeans fought, they likewise sought to control all of their enemies’ commerce and resources.

The Anglo-Dutch Wars were a series of three 17th-century conflicts fought for control of worldwide trade; and were mostly conducted by naval warfare. Both the Netherlands and England were rapidly expanding commercial nations, and each wished to control these vast profits. To do so meant that either England or the Netherlands had to destroy their enemies’  fleet, conquer or raid their colonies, and capture or disrupt  their merchant marine. The Second  and Third Anglo-Dutch naval wars involved both the Dutch and English and this fierce economic rivalry brought these wars to the shores of Hampton Roads.   Read more

“In the Land of Submarines”: Documenting Nishimura 3746

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Japanese submarine Nishimura 3746 in 2020

This week “in the Land of Submarines” we’re focusing on documenting the Japanese submarine Nishimura 3746. Previously we talked about its history and our initial assessment of the hull. All this activity is in preparation of moving the sub onto a custom cradle and to a new home. 

Since it’s arrival at the Museum in 1946, the sub has been displayed and stored outside. At 35 feet long and 22 tons, keeping it inside wasn’t an option at an institution where space is at a premium. As we prepare the sub for lifting one of our major steps is documenting its condition. After 82 years the hull is still sound, however we’re paying particular attention to the keel.    Read more

Under the Influence of Empire: Whistler’s Naval Review Etchings

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Blogger’s Note:  This post has been adapted from the research I did for my MA qualifying project, and I hope it will help to familiarize you with not only my work but my style. A major reason I’ve been drawn to Whistler’s work is the pervasive interest in waterscapes and watercraft shown throughout his corpus. As I’ll begin to unpack here, too, his work and biography are deserving of more critical attention. Historical figures are rarely as simpleor as innocentas they are often made out to be.

Introduction

James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903), an American expat and major figure of nineteenth-century European and American art, was and remains best known for his disavowal of the more communicative functions of art in favor of what he espoused as “art for art’s sake,” an idea he preached publicly and vociferously. Whistler has also been noted for his big, entertaining, if also irascible, personality, a reputation he carefully cultivated. His biography is littered with coming-to-blows episodes with patrons and colleagues. Whistler actually published the correspondence from these episodes in a memoir of sorts, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies. Often described as “cosmopolitan,” Whistler’s transnationalism certainly did inform his artwork, not least through his sometimes-radical adaptations of East Asian aesthetics. One aspect of his career that has been overshadowed by his flamboyant personality and artistic innovations is that Whistler was an artist in an age of empire. The effects and influence of imperialism were not only formative but informed some key works of his mature career. These key works include the etchings in his Naval Review set from 1887.   Read more

“In the Land of Submarines”: Assessing Nishimura 3746

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Nishimura 3746 in 2020

Welcome to the second installment of our miniseries on Nishimura 3746, a Japanese midget submarine. We’re deep diving into an on-going project to resupport this one-of-a-kind vessel. Check out the first post in the series to learn about Nishimura’s history and how it arrived at the Museum. 

The purpose of the project is to lift the sub onto a custom cradle and move it to a more accessible location. The sub currently rests on its keel and is supported by several blocks. A proper support will protect the hull, provide safe access, and bonus, can be used as an exhibit mount when the time comes to display it!   Read more