Art Showcase

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The Art of Mort Künstler / The American Spirit / The Frontier

Here you will find a pictorial chronicle of the drama and excitement of American History. These paintings give the viewer an insight into the tumultuous life of this young nation that mere words cannot achieve.

Flying Cloud

The clipper ship had a short but glorious life, from the mid-1840s to the 1860s, when steamboats and railroads took over. The first clippers were built in Baltimore, but that industry shifted quickly to New England. In 1831, Donald McKay, one of the greatest ship designers and builders, built the Flying Cloud. It was called the noblest and most beautiful ship ever built: 229 feet in length, forty in breadth, and her sail rising 200 feet from the deck. She was not only a thing of beauty, she was also the fastest ship afloat. On her maiden voyage, June 2, 1851, she logged 374 nautical miles the first day out; she rounded Cape Horn and made San Francisco in eighty-nine days, a record never surpassed by a sailboat.

The Flying Cloud whose birth coincided with the discovery of gold in California played a role in the history of that state. It was faster - and safer - to sail around Cape Horn than to go overland from the Mississippi. The Flying Cloud wrote a chapter, too, in the history of maritime Massachusetts, for it continued the famous China Trade inaugurated in 1782, and brought both wealth and the Chinese culture to cosmopolitan Boston.

Date Created: 1985

Medium: Gouache

Image Size: 12" x 13-3/4"

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All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2020. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.