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South sea whalers boiling blubber by O.W. Brierly

Date: 1876
Overall: 440 x 590 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Engraving
Object No: 00006996

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    HistoryQuote from the article in the Illustrated London News (Vol. 69, July 1876, pp.4-5) relating to the original watercolour (now in the collection of the State Library of New South Wales DG366): "This picture, by Mr O.W. Brierly, in the present exhibition of the Society of Painters in Water Colours, is noticeable not only for its excellence as a work of art, but is also of considerable interest from the novelty of the subject. It appears that the customs in South Sea whaling differ in some respects form whaling as it is carried on in the Artic regions, where the blubber is cut up and put into tanks to be brought home and boiled. In the South Sea ships, which capture both sperm and 'right' whale, the whales are brought alongside, where the blubber is first stripped off in great masses, called 'blanket pieces', which are then cut up into more manageable sizes, and finally boiled down in the try-pots - large boilers fixed into brickwork on the forepart of the ship, the fuel being supplied from the scraps from which the oil has been extracted. A whaler so employed at night, with a mass of smoke rising high above the sails, which are lighted up by a red glare as the fires are stirred up, has very much the appearance of a ship on fire, and passing vessels not unfrequently bear down to render assistance for what is taken for a burning ship. We understand that the picture is a commission from Lord Elphinstone."

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