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James Bard

James Bard was a marine artist of the 19th century. He is known for his paintings of watercraft, particularly of steamboats. His works are sometimes characterized as naïve art. Although Bard died poor and almost forgotten, his works have since become valuable. Bard had a twin brother, John (1815-1856) and they collaborated on earlier works.During his life, Bard painted or made drawings of at least 3,000 vessels, including probably every steamer built at New York during his active life as an artist. Bard's works included common features intended to please patrons. Sailboats were shown underway with all sails up. Steamboats likewise were shown underway, with numerous flags flying, including a large one bearing the vessel's name. There would often be inscriptions about the ship and its owner. In one example, James and John Bard painted for their patron Cornelius Vanderbilt, then one of the wealthiest men in the United States, a portrait of the Hudson River steamboat Cornelius Vanderbilt racing the Oregon. Although Oregon won the race, the Vanderbilt is shown in the lead, and all that is visible of the Oregon is the prow and the flag on the jackstaff. Bard went to great lengths to get the details of the vessel correctly, including personally measuring the vessel in question. Preliminary drawings exist for some vessels. It was customary at that time for marine artists to paint multiple works of a single vessel, which could be different as to the background and other details, depending on orders from patrons. Bard followed this practice, often painting the same vessel multiple times.

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