—A J Peluso, Jr.
Of the 459 known Bard paintings only nineteen are of sailing vessels, each built in the Nyack, New York area—including the Norma built in 1852. The setting suggests Norma sailing upriver on the Tappan Zee, looking east from Nyack.
Her home port was Cold Spring, in the Hudson Highlands, where she was engaged by the West Point Foundry to haul water pipe and intricate iron fencing from down-stream clients, and later on cannon balls for the Union army. Nothing is known of her later career, but if her fate was typical, she would have been stripped of her rigging, and humbly transformed into a barge.
Bard's work can be divided into three distinct stylistic periods; the earliest when he worked with his twin brother John through 1849, a period of mostly naïve watercolor portraits; and the latest from 1870 until his retirement in 1890, a period of watercolor images of great precision. Norma comes from the middle period, a unique, large, and exuberant oil.
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