The Bergc. 1870s or 1880s by
Bradford, William 1823-1892
The Berg is one of many paintings that resulted from Bradford's travels to the Arctic region in the 1860s, and it most likely dates from the 1870s or 1880s. The focal point is the bridge-shaped iceberg and the nearby brigantine and fishing boat. The viewpoint is that of an observer from the deck of another shop, the distance between them marked by a buoy, birds, and fisherman hauling in their nets. To the right is a tiny jut of land and a hut. In the background, snow-covered mountains dwarf the human life below. While Bradford describes details with care, he applies his pain in loose, horizontal strokes to create the effect of rippling water.
Bradford's scene belongs to a long tradition of marine painting going back to the Dutch Baroque period. Specifically, it is connected to those mid-nineteenth-century seascapes that rejected Romantic drama in favor of a more objective realism based on careful documentation. The emerald green iceberg is a case in point. It is not a generalized formation but is oddly asymmetrical and fringed with icicles. This work also shows the artist's Realist orientation in his effort to convey specific light effects, such as the reflection of the iceberg and the complicated light pattern on the sea's surface. Moreover, the artist's familiarity with sailing ships is apparent from details of the rigging and the way the vessels ride in the water.
Size (inches): 18 1/8 x 30
Medium: Oil on Canvas