Telling Stories: Narratives of Nationhood

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Historical Sense of Place: Market Town, Seascape, and Wartime Images

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George Thresher
The Yankee Gale
About the Artist and the Work  |   Looking at the Art  |   Artistic and Cultural Heritage
image of artwork
George Thresher, The Yankee Gale, 1851. Oil on canvas. 81.5 x 112.4 cm. Collection of CCAG.

In the face of the power of the sea, marine legends were recorded in poem and song. Here, the story of the sea's fury is also told in art. Painting in oil, Thresher uses dark tones throughout both sky and sea to convey the dramatic mood. This darkness is important to how the image reads, as is the way that Thresher lays down the paint in the image. The dark colour and heavy brush strokes are used symbolically - the colour to suggest menace and the brush strokes to suggest wrenching movement.

The proportions of the composition are important as well. The sea dominates the foreground, which emphasizes its power and dominance: the sea overwhelms the ship visually and literally. The repetition of waves and the light tones representing whitecaps create a rhythm, conveying a sense of violent movement in the artwork.