Whalers in the Arctic - Unknown artist (after John Ward) (c.1850)
oil on canvas, 68 x 111 cm
KINCM:1949.84, Hull Maritime Museum

This 1850 painting after a Ward original depicts five whalers in the Arctic, in lost stern (off left), port (centre), starboard (far right) and, rarely, for the Hull school, sailing towards the viewer in a bow view, far left and off right, in full sail. As a result, the artist suggests that there is nowhere in the Arctic for whales and other polar mammals to hide.  Three whales have evidently already met their fate. In the right foreground, a harpooned whale is about to be lanced by the spektioneer. A second whale is being flensed on the port side of the ship on the far left, whose deck-side has been partly lowered to enable easier loading of the blubber. The crew of the ship in profile view, meanwhile, are climbing over the body parts of a third whale on deck. In addition, further whalers have landed on the repoussoir ice floe, bottom right, to attack a polar bear, who has come down to the spring ice to feed on seals, and can be seen killing a seal on the ice island in the centre of the canvas. The artist also indicates the season by placing a garland on the main sail top mast of the ship sailing towards the viewer. Following the example of the Van de Veldes, the artist has toned the picture into a harmony of four colours: a dark grey, an onyx green, a snow white, and an aqua blue, with flashes of blood red enlivening the scene. He has also employed a careful chiaroscuro, with alternating, recessional bands of dark and light, to give depth to the scene.

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Credit: Images are courtesy of the Hull Maritime Museum