Thursday, March 10, 2016

Historic Nantucket Maritime Painting by Maarten Platje

Maarten Platje Whaler Three Brothers arrives in Nantucket Harbour
oil on canvas, 27 1/2 x 39 5/16 in. 

This painting brings us back to 1851 as the whaler Three Brothers slowly maneuvers into Nantucketharbor surrounded by small boats.  The vessel had departed Nantucket in July of 1846 and was now returning from her Pacific voyage five years later. During this journey, the ship Three Brothers was captained by Joseph Mitchell, and owned by George and Mathew Starbuck. By this time, Whaling had become a strong, yet brutal industry. This was one of the most successful whaling ships of the Nantucket fleet, logging more than 10 whaling trips during her career. The ship Three Brothers, originally built in New Bedford in 1833, was later abandoned in the ice fields of Point Barrow in the Arctic in 1877.
The history of American whale fishing started with Native Americans along the north-western and north-eastern coasts. They hunted using drift whaling where they would process the whale once it had died and washed ashore. In the 16th century, European sailors sailed from America in 20 foot long boats with harpoons. The towns of Long Island are believed to have been the first to establish a whale fishery on the shores of New England sometime around 1650 and Nantucket joined in on the trade in 1690. In the early 1700’s the Nantucket whale trade depended on sighting whales off the coast of the island, harpooning them and towing them to shore.  By the 1800’s whaling vessels were outfitted to process the whales on board the ship and they ventured out on long whale fishing hunts. The end of the 1800s brought the decline of the American whaling industry with competition from new fishing technology out of Norway, a dwindling population of whales, and the rise alternate fuel sources.
The artist, Maarten Platje, was born in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, in 1967 and still lives and works there today.  Platje studied at the Ars Aemula Naturae Art Academy in Leiden where we was able to hone his technical skills as a draftsman and painter. Prior to his artistic studies, Platje spent much of his youth as a sailor, a period that certainly contributed to his ability to transform his impressions and observations into highly accurate and lively marine paintings later in life. In 1996 Platje was invited by the Royal Dutch Navy to embark on a frigate during NATO operations in the Mediterranean waters around the former Yugoslavia. During this voyage, he followed in the steps of the famous Dutch marine painter Willem van de Velde (1611-1693), the official artist for the Dutch Fleet in his time. This resulted in a series of paintings illustrating various naval operations which are now on a permanent display at theNaval Museum in Den Helder and at the Museum of the Marine Corps of the Royal Netherlands Navy in Rotterdam. Platje’s current body of work focuses on accurate recreations of historically important ships and regatta’s from the 18th and 19th Centuries.  This painting was created to honor the men who risked their lives on whale ships during one of the most important times in American maritime history.

Contact the gallery for additional information about this work: or 203.869.3664