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Battleship USS OHIO Leaving San Pedro, 1849

Documentation Signed
Documentation Notes Signed LR: Duncan Gleason
Origin United States, California
Period 1920-1949
Materials Oil on Canvas
Dimensions
W. 40.25 in; H. 34.5 in;
W. 102.24 cm; H. 87.63 cm;
Condition Good.
Creation Date Circa 1939
Description This large, outstanding work is instantly recognizable as a work by California artist Duncan Gleason. Gleason’s lively brushwork marries his sailor’s knowledge of ships with an artist’s skill at rendering all the elements in a way that’s both cohesive and interesting to the eye. The artist’s trademark palette of brilliant blues and oranges draws us in to a bright sunny morning, a perfect time to set forth on a voyage.

OHIO is outward bound from San Pedro Harbor just passing Dead Man's Island to starboard- a land mass which was removed in 1928 to improve navigation in the harbor. Based on the perceived direction of the ocean swells and low angle light source, the scene appears to be an early winter morning with the wind and cumulus clouds filling from the Southeast- a condition which often anticipates winter rains.

OHIO sails before the wind with yards braced almost square. Her main course and royals are drawn up in their clew lines and the flying jib is still furled on the bowsprit. The fore-course is set loosely and has not yet been sheeted home. In the right foreground a small craft with a sprit-sail rig heads into the harbor on starboard tack.

OHIO flies the American ensign at her mizzen-gaff peak and a blue swallowtail pennant bearing a central white star is worn at the cap of the main truck. This accurately depicts the personal command pennant of Commodore Thomas A.P. Catesby Jones, commander of the U.S. Pacific Squadron between 1842 and 1844 and again from 1848 to 1850.

U.S.S. OHIO was considered the first successful American ship-of-the-line and holds the distinction of being the first vessel ever built at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. She was designed by Henry Eckford, who had built Commodore John Rodgers' fleet at Sackett's Harbor during the War of 1812. OHIO was always rated as a '74', but was often known to carry up to 120 guns.

Eckford was one of the most prolific and highly accomplished of the Navy's early designers. Ship builder Isaac Webb, father of clipper designers William and Eckford Webb, apprenticed under Henry Eckford and was in charge of OHIO's construction. U.S.S. OHIO was the last naval commission Eckford completed before he opened his own yard in New York in 1820.

In October 1838, OHIO joined the Mediterranean Squadron as the flagship of Commodore Issac Hull. Under Hull's command the ship protected American commerce and suppressed the slave trade off the African coast. During this time she proved to be an excellent ship, repeatedly making runs at upwards of 12 knots.

In 1847, during the Mexican War, OHIO served with the Gulf Squadron and was at the battles of Vera Cruz and Tuxpan. In November 1847 she was assigned to the Pacific Squadron as flagship of Commodore Thomas a.p. Catesby Jones, protecting commerce and policing the newly acquired California Territory during the chaotic early months of the Gold Rush. When news of the Gold Rush first broke in 1848, Commodore Jones immediately sailed OHIO from Monterey to San Francisco seeking to maintain order and stability in the region amidst rising 'gold mania'.

OHIO, although besieged by her own rash of desertions, provided protection for gold shipments and represented authority in a city that had been all but stripped of its civil government (and most of its inhabitants) by gold fever. To discourage potential desertions to the gold fields, Jones kept OHIO anchored well out in San Francisco Bay to discourage his seamen from swimming ashore. Because of the ensuing discipline problem from his confined crew and an outbreak of scurvy from a lack of fresh vegetables, Jones was forced to take OHIO to Hawaii in early 1849 to implement shore leave and take on fresh supplies. OHIO then returned to San Francisco until late 1850 when she was sailed to Boston and refitted as a receiving ship. OHIO remained at Boston until being sold to J. L. Snow of Rockland, Maine on September 27, 1883 after which she disappears from the ship registers.

Framed Size: 43 5/8 x 49 5/8 inches
Styles / Movements California School, Other , Realism
Book References Literature: Duncan Gleason, "The Islands and Ports of California", 1958, p.111
Catalog References Exhibited: Golden Gate International Exposition 1939; Pasadena Historic Museum 2001.
Incollect Reference Number 386999
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