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

By Michael P. Dyer, Curator of Maritime History

Book Launch and Companion Exhibition Opening

Friday, July 21, 2017
6 pm – 9 pm


From the 1750s through the first years of the twentieth 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. 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.

The book 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 327 illustrations of whaling scenes, scrimshaw, prints, and paintings. It is unique in its structure, detailed in its study, and enlightening in its discoveries.

Art of Yankee Whalehunt book cover
365 pages | $65.00
Now available online
or call 508-997-0046 ext. 127


About the Author
Michael DyerMichael P. Dyer is the Curator of Maritime History at the New Bedford Whaling Museum/Old Dartmouth Historical Society. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in American History from York College of Pennsylvania, and a Master of Arts in American Studies from Penn State Harrisburg. He has studied at Mystic Seaport, and was the inaugural U.S.A. Gallery Fellow at the Australia National Maritime Museum in 2008. From 1993 to 2001 he was Curator of Maritime History and Librarian at the Kendall Whaling Museum in Sharon, Massachusetts. In addition to his specialization in whalemen’s art, he has contributed many scholarly articles to periodical publications, is a frequent public speaker, and has curated several exhibitions on American and world-wide whaling history, maritime decorative arts, and cartography.


“One particularly interesting feature of chapter four is the contributions that whaling voyages made to research on all kinds of things. It makes me admire all the more the bravery of the captains and crews of ships cruising in waters of which they had very imperfect knowledge. They had to brave all kinds of hazards, as you say, because they did not know what was there until well into the 19th century.” Robert O’Neill, author, historian, and Chair of the International Academic Advisory Committee at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, Australia.