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A Chart of the Whale Coast of New Englan



Hinsdale Map.JPG
The chart, or mural, is possibly the largest single work by the artist Clifford Ashley.  Clifford Ashley was born in New Bedford, MA in 1881 where he spent his youth on the waterfront amidst what remained of the once flourishing whaling industry.  After graduating from New Bedford High School, he attended the Eric Pape Art School in Boston.  A talented seascape artist, Ashley became well-known for his seascape paintings.  In 1904 he boarded the bark Sunbeam on a 6-week whaling trip to gain experience for an article he was writing.  Few people had the practical knowledge of whaling and professional artistic training as Ashley, and he used these assets to produce works of literature and illustration that were respected and appreciated by old sea dogs and historians alike.  He was also a renowned marine artist and produced hundreds of nautical oil paintings during his life.  None, however, are known to be the size and scope of the “A Chart of The Whale Coast of New England, c. 1810”.  Ashley died at his home in Westport in 1947.
Measuring 6 by 16 feet, the mural details the south coast of New England from the Connecticut River to Cape Cod, including the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. Clifford Ashley painted the mural in 1919 for his friend Gilbert Hinsdale and the work remained in the family home at 20 Water Street, Mattapoisett for 90 years.  The chart resided on the sloped ceiling of the office/sunroom which overlooked Mattapoisett Harbor.  The mural was to stay in that spot weathering four hurricanes; those of 1938 and 1944, Carol in 1954 and Bob in 1991.  In 1938, the hurricane completely knocked off the side of the building and gutted the sunroom, submerging it in 5 feet of water.  But the chart, mounted to the ceiling, was miraculously unharmed.  The mural has been given to the museum by Mrs. Polly Duff Phipps, great-grandniece of Gilbert Hinsdale, and a resident of our town. Restoration of the mural has been made possible by the gifts of many Mattapoisett residents and friends.

You can get a copy of all information pertaining to the commission and restoration in our gift shop. 

You can read more info on the mural on our blog.

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