We are proud to offer this extremely rare 18th century baroque period ship's figurehead. For those unfamiliar, a figurehead is a carved wooden sculpture affixed to the prow of a ship, a tradition which dates back to the Viking era. These sculptures came in many different forms including horses, dolphins, dragons, serpents, mermaids and in the case of this example, a fanciful angel wearing the sacred heart on his breast. While many baroque period figureheads are decorative in nature, they also served an important practical purpose . Much like the identification placards displayed on the hull of modern vessels, figureheads helped the longshoremen identify the incoming ship's country of origin. Naval vessels displayed figureheads to signify strength while wealthy mariners displayed them as status symbols. In northern Europe it was commonly believed that the spirits within the figurehead offered protection from dangerous seas and disease and if a vessel were to sink without one the souls aboard would be condemned to the bottom of the sea forever. The guidance of a figurehead at the ship's prow offered reassurance to those aboard. Spain / Flanders. Circa 1700 - 1750.
Raised on a high quality custom made stand.
Dimensions: measures 33.5 inches high x 11 inches wide x 9.5 inches deep.
Please note: accessories are shown for scale only.
Condition notes: scattered paint loss, soiling, lacking forearms. Surface is stable and original. Unrestored.
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297 Kansas Street, Suite B
San Francisco, CA., 94103
Colonial Arts | 151 Vermont Street Street, Suite 6 | San Francisco, CA., 94103 | www.colonialarts.com