O'er the Wide and Tractless Sea: Original Art of the Yankee Whale Hunt - New Bedford Whaling Museum

O'er the Wide and Tractless Sea

Original Art of the Yankee Whale Hunt


O’er the Wide and Tractless Sea: Original Art of the Yankee Whale Hunt

Opened: July 21, 2017

Closed: May 14, 2019

Buried deep within the logbooks, journals, and manuscripts of America’s whaling heritage are paintings, drawings, and representations of the whale hunt rarely, if ever, seen by the public.

From the 1750s through the first years of the 20th century, American whaling voyages ranged farther off shore, and ultimately around the world, in a pursuit that produced oil and baleen for the growing population and industrialization of the US.

The dangerous pursuit of whales has been justly studied and chronicled, but many writers have overlooked a significant cultural aspect of multiyear voyages wherein day-to-day events were pictorially recorded.

This exhibition highlighted artworks that capture the essence of whaling, its culture, vessels, the geographical locales where it took place, and the animals commonly pursued. Scrimshaw whaling scenes have seldom been compared with whalemen’s paintings and drawings, although the comparisons are obvious. The me­diums have been treated separately, yet each came into creation at the same place and time and under the same conditions.