Sunday, November 11, 2007

PEM Recap

( Clipper Dreadnought, ca. 1853 (detail). James Edward
Buttersworth (1817-1894). New York, N. Y.. Oil on canvas.)

Good trip to Peabody Essex today. I had initially intended to write a review of their "Sketched at Sea" exhibit. However, when I walked in, their first floor "Maritime Art" gallery was closer, so it's there that I went. (Side note: This turned out to be a good thing. When I went to look for the "Sketched at Sea" exhibit later, I couldn't find it. I'm not kidding, you guys. I'm a smart person with experience in museums, but despite following the signs carefully, that particular exhibit never appeared. Weird.)

Now, I'll admit that I'm a flat-out sucker for anything that has anything to do with the sea. I mentioned this before, when I first moved to Portsmouth.
I think it's mostly from spending all of my childhood summers on Prince Edward Island, but growing up in New England certainly didn't hurt, either. You could take a completely boring item & plop a sailing ship or a lighthouse or a mussel shell on it and I will absolutely buy it from you. ;) My personal checks have maritime scenes on them, for goodness sake!

Despite my appallingly low standards for satisfaction, the Maritime Art exhibit still went above & beyond my expectations. Think of those words: "maritime art." You're probably picturing lots & lots of grand portraits of schooners & clipper ships & brigs, right? Well, they had that in spades, but more that I wasn't expecting. Portraits of Salem sea captains & merchants, intricate scrimshaw, advertising posters for the Cunard line & its ilk, carved figureheads, a huge model of the original Queen Elizabeth, and even a recreation of the interior of a yacht.

If you happen to be in the Salem area, it's definitely worth paying PEM a visit. They have amazing collections of Asian & American art, as well, but the maritime art exhibit alone was worth my $9. :)

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