Whaling Captain Joseph Belain
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20" x 24", oil on canvas
This painting has been acquired by the Martha's Vineyard Museum
Depicting New England Whaling Captain Joseph Belain, this is a posthumous portrait composed in the style of maritime portraits of the late 1800's. Capt. Belain was one of a number of whaling captains of color, many of whom had African American and Wampanoag ancestry. Whelan's reference for the project was a very small grayscale tintype of Capt. Belain's head and torso. She created the rest of the scene from historic reference.
For more information about whaling captains of color, look for author Skip Finley's “Whaling Captains of Color: America's First Meritocracy” due out summer 2019.