Lot 51
  • 51

William Bradford 1823 - 1892

300,000 - 500,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • William Bradford
  • Shipping Vessel with Ice Floes and Figures
  • signed W. Bradford (lower right)
  • oil on canvas
  • 22 by 35 1/2 inches
  • (55.9 by 90.2 cm)


Private Collection, circa 1910
By descent to the present owner


Minneapolis, Minnesota, Minneapolis Industrial Exposition (as ...Near Cape St. .../Labrador)

Catalogue Note

William Bradford first traveled to the arctic in the summer of 1861, when sailing to Labrador and Greenland from his home in New Bedford, Massachusetts. He was immediately captivated by the rugged landscape of this icy wilderness and returned to the region regularly over the next decade. During these voyages, Bradford took photographs and made meticulous sketches of ice formations and the local culture that formed the basis for many of his later oil compositions such as Shipping Vessel with Ice Floes and Figures. He was particularly interested in accurately capturing the immediate atmosphere and the effect that light had on the shapes and colors of the colossal icebergs. He observed, “From dead white to glossy, glistening satin; from the deepest green to all the lightest shades; and from faint blue to the deepest ‘lapis lazuli;’ and again, as some lofty berg passed between us and the sun, its crest would be bordered with an orange-coloured halo, in which sometimes pristine shades appear. The wild, rugged shapes, indescribable and everchanging, baffle all description, and nothing can do justice but the sun-given power of the camera. And even that must fail, for until retouched by the hand the glorious phases of colour remain unexposed” (Richard Kugler, William Bradford: Sailing Ships and Arctic Seas, New Bedford, Massachusetts, 2003, p. 27).