July 6, 2017

Whaling art history book and exhibition offer new perspectives on life at sea

“O’er the Wide and Tractless Sea: Original Art of the Yankee Whale Hunt” launches July 21, 2017

New Bedford, Mass. – The New Bedford Whaling Museum will launch Michael P. Dyer’s much-anticipated whaling art history book O’er the Wide and Tractless Sea: Original Art of the Yankee Whale Hunt on Friday, July 21, 2017, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Dyer, Curator of Maritime History at the Museum, will sign copies of his book and speak about the development and creation of this important project. The event is free and open to the public. Please RSVP at www.whalingmuseum.org or call 508-997-0046.

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.

Dyer’s O’er the Wide and Tractless Sea: Original Art of the Yankee Whale Hunt highlights those unique artworks that capture the essence of whaling and its culture. This comprehensive examination of whalemen’s art will be the standard reference text for years to come. The author’s meticulous research is based upon a study of marine history and art spanning two decades.

This handsome book features more than 327 illustrations of whaling scenes, scrimshaw, prints, and paintings. It is unique in its structure, detailed in its study, and enlightening in its discoveries. O’er the Wide and Tractless Sea is available for pre-purchase at the Museum’s store, The White Whale.

For high resolution images contact:
Tina Malott
Director of Marketing & Public Relations
New Bedford Whaling Museum


TOP: Cover from Michael P. Dyer's O'er the Wide and Tractless Sea: Original Art of the Yankee Whale Hunt, showing a view of the ship Virginia of New Bedford, Joseph Chace, master, 1845. By seaman John F. Aikin. Pencil and watercolor on paper.

MIDDLE: First mate William Wells Eldridge kept this superb illustrated journal aboard the bark Canton of New Bedford, Peter Sherman, master, 1874-1878, while on a sperm whaling voyage to the Indian Ocean.

BOTTOM: Whaleman artist John F. Martin of Wilmington, Delaware kept a journal while onboard the ship Lucy Ann. This magnificent ink and watercolor illustration shows a stern view of the ship under a pyramid of full sail.