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Life of a Sailor: A Collector 's Vision


Jeremiah Dodge, Jack Tar

This seven-foot American wooden carving has been attributed to Jeremiah Dodge (d. 1860) of New York, son of a shipwright and a well-known carver of figureheads. Described by experts as one of the 100 finest pieces of American folk art, this unique wooden figure will be on display in the exhibit Life of a Sailor: A Collector 's Vision at Independence Seaport Museum, Philadelphia, PA.

It's the late 18th century. A young man has succumbed to the lure of the sea. He is drawn to the distant horizons, the vision of carefree sailors in exotic foreign ports surrounded by beautiful native women, stirred by the romance of the sea. Or, a second story can be told of a young man who went to sea simply because he needed a job. Whatever the draw, this was the life of a sailor.

Independence Seaport Museum will debut a glimpse into a sailor's life in its newest exhibit, "Life of a Sailor: A Collector's Vision," scheduled to open to the public on September 13, 1999. A broad spectrum of objects such as hand illustrated diaries, journals, log books, tattoo designs, sketches, wood carvings, scrimshaw, uniforms, embroidery, photographs, paintings, prints and related material will highlight aspects of a sailor's life aboard ship and ashore from mid 18th to early 20th century. The exhibit will run through September, 2000.

All of the materials to be shown in this new exhibit are drawn from the extensive collection of Philadelphia native, J. Welles Henderson, the Museum's Founder and Chairman Emeritus, who has spent a lifetime gathering what is generally regarded as the most comprehensive treasury of material relating to the life of a sailor.

Among Mr. Henderson's favorite pieces which are highlighted in the exhibit are the seven foot American woodcarving, "Jack Tar," described by experts as one of the 100 finest pieces of American folk art; an oil painting by Thomas Eakins, "Rear Admiral Charles D. Sigsbee" and a naval engagement painting by Thomas Birch, "U.S. Frigate United States defeating HMS Macedonian on October 25, 1812," once loaned to former President John F. Kennedy and displayed in the Oval Office at the White House.


Read more articles and essays concerning this institutional source by visiting the sub-index page for the Independence Seaport Museum in Resource Library Magazine.

For further biographical information on selected artists cited in this article please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 10/18/10

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