Whaler Truelove of Hull? - William Robert Nixon (before 1886)
54.5 x 86 cm
KINCM:2007.2284, Hull Maritime Museum

There were two whalers called the Truelove who sailed out of Hull. The first was built in Philadelphia in 1765, and subsequently captured from the American rebels during the War of Independence, before becoming a whaler in the Hull fleet. First registered in the city in 1810, the Truelove moved to London in 1874. The second ship of that name, and the one probably depicted here, was active in the Northern Fisheries from 1843-1863 and 1866-1868.  The canvas depicts the vessel in portside view, parallel to the picture plane, with a low horizon line to show off Nixon’s competent depiction of the ship’s rigging. A whaleboat has been launched immediately behind the ship, whose crew are evidently in search of the polar bears in the bottom right of the picture, who have been convincingly startled into action. Perhaps the artist had watched polar bears in one of the many British zoos they could be found in by the 1880s. In the background are two other whalers, or other, more distant views of the Truelove, in lost stern views. The ship seems happily moored in amongst the ice floe, and two of the remaining whale boats can be seen towards its stern. The remaining whale boats are perhaps out on the ocean in search of their quarry, but, again, the scene seems earily quiet compared to earlier Hull School paintings, with their plethora of whales and other mammals. In 1886, the year by which the canvas was probably completed, the International Exhibition of Navigation, Commerce and Industry opened in Liverpool.

help icon

Credit: Images are courtesy of the Hull Maritime Museum