The North West or Davis’s Streights Whale Fishery” (Greenland whaling scene)

Robert Dodd (1748-1816)

Published by London: Boydell, 1789, 1789
Condition: Very Good No Binding
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Robert Dodd (1748-1816) “The North West or Davis’s Streights Whale Fishery” (Greenland whaling scene) London: Boydell, 1789 Hand-colored aquatint engraving 26” x 35 ½” framed Whaling began in the Davis Straight region, off the coast of Greenland, in the Arctic during the 17th century. Dutch, German, English and Scottish whalers largely confined their efforts to the eastern (Greenland) side of the strait. The peak of whaling activity was from 1820 to 1840, when there were sometimes almost 100 vessels in the Davis Strait area; in some years the catch exceeded 1000 whales. Typically, arctic whaling voyages lasted a single summer. Ships arrived from Europe into Davis Strait in April and tried to begin the return journey by October. However, on many occasions vessels were trapped by ice and either imprisoned through the winter or sunk. Robert Dodd’s, “The North West or Davis’s Streights Whale Fishery,” the methods used to hunt whales in the arctic. In this scene Dutch and English ships are shown, each accompanied by two smaller row boats or whaleboats, one kept in reserve should the other be damaged by an angry whale. Once a whale was sighted, the whaleboat would be sent with a small crew, and the whale would be harpooned and lanced to death. The oil extracted from blubber was used in street lamps and for soap. In the 19th century, whales were also used to produce margarine, paints and varnishes, and as a lubricant. The waxy spermaceti produced by sperm whales was used for candles, lubricants, cosmetics and shoe polish. In the Arctic waters, the most important whale was the bowhead, which supplied baleen (whalebone), a substance which hangs in long, curtainlike strips from the roof of its mouth. A large bowhead might produce over 700 strips. By the end of the 19th century, it became common practice to remove baleen and discard the carcass. This flexible substance was used for a range of products including buggy whips, skirt hoops, umbrellas, carriage wheels, corset stays and fishing rods. Dodd was known for the accuracy of the details of ships and the conditions at sea in his paintings. From about 1783, Dodd engraved over a hundred of his paintings in aquatint and as a result his work gained a wide audience. The work of Robert Dodd is represented in the collections of the United States Naval Museum, Annapolis, and the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. Dodd’s painting “The Greenland Whale Fishery” (1783) is also in the collection of Arader Galleries, information is available upon request. Bookseller Inventory # Krk501c

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The North West or Davis’s Streights Whale ...

Publisher: London: Boydell, 1789

Publication Date: 1789

Binding: No Binding

Book Condition:Very Good

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