Item #125601 South Sea Whale Fishery. Whaling, William John HUGGINS.
South Sea Whale Fishery

South Sea Whale Fishery

London, The Artist, 1 January 1825 (but later).

A hand-coloured aquatint and etching (image 402 × 502 mm; visible surface 407 × 517 mm); matted, framed and glazed (external dimensions 685 × 785 mm); in fine condition.

A dramatic and important whaling print, engraved by T. Sutherland after Huggins' painting. The engraved caption reads: 'A representation of the Ships "Amelia Wilson" & "Castor" off the Island of Bouro, with their Boats & Crew in the various process of Fishing, shewing the manner the Spermaceti Whales are caught, also the mode of cutting them into the Ship & Boiling the Oil upon Deck. This plate is most respectfully Dedicated to Ph. Skelton, Andw. Stirton, Wm. & Nichols Esqrs, Owners of the said Ships by their most obedient humble Servant W.J. Huggins'. Two scenes in the image have separate captions: 'The head of a large whale in the agonies of death', and 'A boat destroy'd by a wounded whale'. The catalogue of the 'Whaling Prints in the Francis B. Lothrop Collection' records this version of the print (#104) as a re-engraving of the original version (#103). 'Though the publication date remains unchanged, this print is a later issue, showing the longer title, captions, and the addition of "Marine Painter to His Majesty" to the imprint. Variations in other impressions suggest there may have been a third and perhaps even a fourth plate engraved of the same scene, none achieving the same fine quality as the first.... At least one plate still exists today and is owned by an English publisher who continues to print it. It therefore shows considerable reworking over the years' (Ingalls: 'Whaling Prints in the Francis B. Lothrop Collection', Peabody Museum of Salem, 1987).

'Herman Melville, author of Moby-Dick (1851), judged William John Huggins to be one of very few artists able to portray a whale convincingly. Melville advised that "the only mode in which you can derive even a tolerable idea of his living contour, is by going a whaling yourself; but by so doing, you run no small risk of being eternally stove and sunk by him". Huggins, after several years at sea with the East India Company, established himself in London as a "Marine Painter, Printseller & Publisher [...] Merchants & Captains Supplied on Reasonable Terms". This engraving was produced after a painting commissioned by the owners of the two ships in this dramatic whaling scene. Its setting is by the island of Buru in Indonesia; the expression South Sea Whale Fishery related to oceans below the southern tip of Greenland' (Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu website).

Item #125601

Price (AUD): $2,200.00

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