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'The whale goes under the ice they cut the line, and seek where she returns'

Date: c 1720
Mount: 260 x 288 x 20 mm
Image: 150 x 200 mm
Sight: 185 x 215 mm
Overall: 310 x 340 x 20 mm, 0.7 kg
Medium: Ink on paper, watercolour
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Print
Object No: 00019638
Place Manufactured:Nederland

User Terms

    Coloured engraving titled 'The whale goes under the ice they cut the line, and seek where she returns' in English, Dutch and German depicting Dutch whalers pursuing a whale in the Arctic. Engraved by Adolf van de Laan after artwork by Sieuwert van de Meulen.
    SignificanceThis print is part of the Chester Collection which records the ancestry of Australian whaling which followed much the same pattern as that of the northern hemisphere in earlier centuries. It began with bay whaling until supplies ran out, and then moved to hunting the whale at sea on long ocean voyages. Whaling was colonial Australia's first primary industry but whales have since acquired a different but considerable importance in the public imagination and environmental concerns.

    HistoryFrom an edition of the 'Groote Visschery' published by Petrus Schenk, Amsterdam, c. 1720, engraved by Adolf van der Laan after drawings by Sieuwert van der Meulen containing sixteen scenes depicting the different stages of whale fishery, such as searching for a whale, attempting to catch it, butchering it, hunting polar bears, ships being caught in ice etc. It was published ca. 1720 by Petrus Schenck, and it went through many reprints with variations, and with additional German and/or English text. It is believed that Sieuwert van der Meulen made the original drawings for the set around 1720, just after the Dutch entered Davis Strait, opening vast new whaling grounds and bringing new vitality, prosperity, and interest to the industry.The first series (Herring Fishery) with text in Dutch and English. The second series (Whaling) with text in Dutch, English and German.

    In early prints of whales and whaling, the focus was primarily on whales themselves, with the human hunt for them a natural consequence. Over time prints beganshowing an unfolding knowledge of whales in European culture and science, and the development of whaling, over three centuries.
    The earliest prints show whales as creatures which owe more to myth and imagination than actual knowledge, monsters of the deep with limbs and claws, and hornd heads from which they spout. Gradually more realistic, then more accurate depictions emerge.
    'Landmarks' in the history of whales and whaling are well represented in the ANMM Chester Collection of whale prints. Artists usually worked from descriptions given by explorers, scientists, or publishers, so that the same image would be copied again and again in differing but recognisable versions, until someone generated a new image.
    Another important stage was the discovery of the 'Greenland' or Spitsbergen whale fishery in the 17th century. This is where this particular print depicts and was where the bowhead whale was hunted almost to extinction.
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