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The Spouting Whale

ca. 1870 William Morris Hunt Born: Brattleboro, Vermont 1824 Died: Appledore, New Hampshire 1879 oil on canvas 20 x 16 1/8 in. (50.9 x 40.9 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of William T. Evans 1911.8.2 Not currently on view


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William Morris Hunt turned his attention to landscape painting during the 1870s, and he traveled as far south as Florida, as far west as Mexico, and north to 'Niagara Falls' in search of great views. Many of his canvases from this time, such as this image of The Spouting Whale, are painted loosely, with broad brushstrokes and indistinct forms. The cloudy sky dominates the image, in which we can just make out a geyser of water from a whale below the surface. Although we cannot see the great creature, Hunt conveyed the whale's power in the dark shadows of the choppy water and the vivid contrasts in the sky. The image evokes a sense of foreboding, as if the whale might surge out of the water at any moment. The Spouting Whale conveys the drama of the seas at a time when many American painters, such as Frederic Edwin Church and Martin Johnson Heade, embarked on voyages to new frontiers.

Keywords

Animal - whale

Waterscape - boat

Waterscape - sea

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

About William Morris Hunt

Born: Brattleboro, Vermont 1824 Died: Appledore, New Hampshire 1879

More works in the collection by
William Morris Hunt