Eustis Estate

Off Nix’s Mate, Boston Harbor

George Curtis (1826–1881)
Boston, c. 1876
Oil on canvas
20 ½ x 28 3/8 in.
Gift of the Stephen Phillips Memorial Charitable Trust for Historic Preservation

New England’s economic success depended on commercial vessels such as this one, so throughout the nineteenth century proud shipowners commissioned vast numbers of such “portraits.” This U.S.-flagged vessel floats in Boston Harbor at Nix’s Mate, a tiny island identifiable by the channel marker at right. One flag indicates that a harbor pilot has come aboard, and a tugboat bobs in the foreground. Curtis added the floating debris to guide our eye deeper into the scene. Crew members are shown standing on a deck that would have actually been much lower.

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