Robert M. Joy Whaling Folk Painting

Value (2005) | $12,000 Auction$18,000 Auction

GUEST:
Well, it's a painting of a whaling scene. The inscription on the back said this painting was done by Uncle Robert Joy.

APPRAISER:
Yes.

GUEST:
So with that information, I did some research and found that a Nantucket whaling captain named Robert M. Joy sailed out of New Bedford on a ship called The Charles, and had a very successful voyage. He went to the coast of Brazil and in a matter of seven months was able to fill 2,000 barrels, which is an amazingly short period of time.

APPRAISER:
Yeah, and was this part of a whaling journal, or some kind of record that was kept on the ship itself?

GUEST:
Well, it hasn't been folded, and we don't believe that it was part of a whaling journal.

APPRAISER:
Yeah.

GUEST:
I think it was probably done so that the Robert Joy could have a picture of the ship that was a great success on the wall of his home in Nantucket.

APPRAISER:
Yeah, so it was kind of a memento of this. The thing that I find so exciting about this piece is the documentation that this provides us. Here's a whale ship in sort of full regalia. It is anatomically correct. The person who did this watercolor was not a professional artist in the sense of a Rembrandt or a Winslow Homer, but all of the riggings and all of the presentation elements of this ship are correct, and it really is kind of taking us through the whole process of the capture of whales and the trying out, the unpeeling of this blanket of blubber being hauled up on blocks. And then the chopping of those pieces of whale blubber into what are called books--

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
--and the actual cooking or rendering of that blubber into whale oil.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
The whole scene of another whale kind of in line, waiting to go into this process, the men in longboats pursuing another whale...

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
...other ships in the background, another longboat back here. So it's a piece of art, it's a piece of history, and it really presents a story and a document about the whaling industry, which was one of the most important industries in America, where every lamp in that period of time was lit with whale oil.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
I know that you paid something in the vicinity of--

GUEST:
$8,500.

APPRAISER:
--$8,500 and it's probably worth maybe something in the vicinity of $12,000 to $18,000 at auction. I'm delighted that you brought it in.

GUEST:
Thank you.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Sotheby's
New York, NY
Appraised value (2005)
$12,000 Auction$18,000 Auction
Event
Providence, RI (June 18, 2005)

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