Monday, March 1, 2010

Fine Art

To calm us all down from the weekend's lurid post, I offer you details from an 1850's oil by George Durrie, a New Haven painter. These are from one of his many "East Rock" and "West Rock" pictures, and it shows a man in a dugout canoe or pirogue on his way up the Quinnipiac River. Despite the light breeze he is making pretty fair speed, judging from the wake and the ripple at his steering oar. The pirogue is rigged with a spritsail, a rig that sail, mast and sprit could be bundled into his dugout in a moment's time. (Click on the pictures to enlarge.)

Dugouts have a long history in Connecticut: indeed, in 1988 divers found a prehistoric dugout sunk in a lake. Mystic Seaport, the great maritime museum, has the transcript of a 260 minute1967 interview with Fair Haven oysterman John Thomas (born 1881), who relates that one of his dugouts could carry fifty bushels.

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