A Whaler off a Mountainous Coast

Compositionally, this painting of a whaler off a mountainous coast, relates to another picture by John Wilson Carmichael (1800-68) in the NMM, the '"Erebus" and "Terror" in the Antarctic' (BHC1215). Here, though, just one ship represents the only human presence in an environment of rough peaks, glaciers, mountains and jagged rocks. The ship is portrayed tossed in the waves as it navigates a passage though a sound. In the foreground is Carmichael's interpretation of the wildlife in such an environment. Whales send up jets of water in the foreground to the left.

The painter paid particular attention to the depiction of the luminous sky and the golden glow on the mountains in the background. The landscape seems fantastical and the scene has been romanticized, since although the environment is barren it is not threatening to the ship and men. The presence of the birds and fish implies that nature has been interpreted as benign to man and not hostile.

Carmichael was a prolific artist who produced drawings and engravings for the British newspapers of the time.

Object Details

ID: BHC1213
Collection: Fine art
Type: Painting
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Carmichael, John Wilson
Date made: 19th century
Exhibition: Time and Longitude
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London. Purchased with the Assistance of the Society for Nautical Research Macpherson Fund.
Measurements: Painting: 876 mm x 1384 mm; Frame: 1008 x 1522 x 95 mm

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