Benjamin Russell (artist)
Benjamin Russell (October 16, 1804 – March 3, 1885) was an American artist best known for his accurate watercolors of whaling ships working in New England. Born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, to a wealthy family, Russell started drawing and painting in his late 30s, after a few years spent working as a cooper aboard a whaling ship.
Russell's depiction of perspective and depth are stiff and flat, and his images "were appreciated more for their accurate representation than their artistic value." However, most of his work is perfectly to scale, resembling control drawings, and Russell watercolors are some of the better views of the mid-19th-century American whaling industry, until photography became available in the 1850s.
Wreck of the Essex; detail from Whaling Voyage Round the World by Russell & Purrington, ca.1848
Advertisement for performance at Boston's Amory Hall of Whaling Voyage Round the World, 1849
- Robert L. Carothers and John L. Marsh. The Whale and the Panorama. Nineteenth-Century Fiction, Vol. 26, No. 3 (Dec., 1971), pp. 319–328.
- Kevin J. Avery. "Whaling Voyage Round the World": Russell and Purrington's Moving Panorama and Herman Melville's "Mighty Book." American Art Journal, Vol. 22, No. 1 (Spring, 1990), pp. 50–78.
- Forbes, Allan. Whale Ships and Whaling Scenes as Portrayed by Benjamin Russell (1955)
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