The Burning Ship

Albert Bierstadt (American, b. Germany, 1830–1902)
ca. 1865
MediumOil on paper
Dimensions11 7/8 × 15 7/8 inches
CreditGift of Mrs. E. H. Finken and Miss M. Wolferz, 1955
Accession Number55.79

The nocturnal setting of The Burning Ship, probably a far-flung Civil War skirmish in the South Pacific Caroline Islands, suggests the somber tone of a divided nation, rather than a dramatic maritime battle. The Museum’s painting is apparently a study for a much larger canvas of the same subject, dated 1871, at the Shelburne Museum. References to a painting by Bierstadt of this subject appear as early as 1869. At the time this was painted, Bierstadt had a summer home in Irvington.