Figurehead, The Edinburgh
familiar with maritime history will recognize the graceful figures
of men and women that once rode proudly on the bows of America's ships.
In colonial times, ship figurehead carving was a skilled craft that
required an apprenticeship under a master. Figureheads were
carved in pieces and joined with wooden pegs. Detachable arms could
be removed to prevent damage during storms.
Figureheads depicted gods and goddesses, ship owners, and American
presidents. Decorative scrolls were also popular.
The names of many craftsmen have been lost to us over time. But their
work lives on in watercolor paintings made by artists of the Index
of American Design project (1935-1941).
The galleries herein display some of
these prints from the 1930s.