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Dutch whaling scene

This oil painting featuring a Dutch whaling scene was painted in 1645 by Bonaventura Peeters the Elder. Part of what makes this painting so special (besides that it is a beautiful piece of art) is that it is currently the fourth oldest known whaling painting. The probably location for the scene is Smeersburg (“Grease Town”), a Dutch whaling settlement on Spitsbergen, founded in 1619. It is unlikely that the piece portrays a specific event. Rather, it was likely intended to highlight the importance of arctic whaling to the 17th-century Dutch economy. Though the harpooned whale in the center of this picture is not accurately portrayed, the Dutch were the first to produce realistic images of whales, based on studies performed after a whale washed ashore. This painting is in the collection of The Mariners' Museum, Newport News, VA.

Image taken from The Mariners Museum. Item no. 1933.0205.000001.