The Burning Ship
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.