NOT FOR SALE
Carved and painted figurehead from the Donald McKay Clipper Ship "Glory of the Seas" in the form of a classical goddess carved by Herbert Gleason in Boston in 1869. Gleason is best known for his figurehead for Donald McKay’s “Glory of the Seas”. “Carved in 1869 she stands on her toes, clutching, loosely flowing drapery between her breasts. Generally Classical in Conception, she wears a necklace and armbands that also reference American Indian adornment. The work is well done and the figure is convincingly articulated. What is particularly striking though, is the extent of her nudity. Her bare feet, ankles and arms, combined with her exposed breasts are extremely rare for an American Figurehead. At the time public opinion was finally coming to accept nudity in the private realm of the fine art gallery or collector’s home." (Reference 4: Text by Ralph Sessions).
Provenance: Prior to the destruction of the of "Glory of the Seas" in 1923 the figurehead was removed and saved. It was acquired by James A Farrell a major collector and President of US Steel. He was one of the founders of India House to whom he eventually gave the figurehead. The wood plaque with gold painted lettering was exhibited below the figure. James Farrell in 1927 wrote the foreword to the Book "Some Famous Sailing Ships And Their Builder Donald McKay" by Richard C. McKay who in the preface (P. vii) wrote "Mr. Farrell has always been interested in Donald McKay and his ships, especially the "Glory of the Seas", which his father Captain G. Farrell commanded and with whom in his youth, he sailed around the Horn. Almost 100 years later the figurehead was removed from India House with the plaque in 2021 and was sold privately.
Condition: The figurehead is in excellent original condition. The painted surface going back to when she was mounted at India House. The brownish natural wood color has a crackled surface. There are a few age cracks and the right foot has been repaired.
Height: Approximately 8 feet: Weight: Approximately 460 pounds
THE VOYAGES OF GLORY OF THE SEAS 1870 - 1885 (Wikipedia)
On her maiden voyage, Glory of the Seas sailed from New York in February 1870 under the command of Captain John Giet. She anchored at San Francisco on June 13 after a passage of 120 days. From there she sailed to Liverpool, England, under Captain William Chatfield. McKay then sold Glory to J. Henry Sears of Boston, who replaced Captain Chatfield with Josiah Nickerson Knowles.
Details of her time between 1870 and 1885 are incomplete, but she "ran between New York and British ports and San Francisco almost exclusively" during those years. She did make a fast voyage from New York to San Francisco between October 13, 1873 and mid-January, 1874. In 1875 she set the record of 35 days for a passage from San Francisco to Sydney, Australia. According to McKay, until 1885 under Captain McLaughlin “Glory” carried general cargo from New York to San Francisco and wheat from there to Britain, and was nearly wrecked in a storm when arriving in Britain in 1880. The Bruzelius timetable differs and does not mention the 1880 event. Both agree that she was laid up at San Francisco between December 1882 and February 1885.
The Peabody Essex Museum has a photograph by W.H. Black of thy launching of "Glory of the Seas" in East Boston. McKay appears at the center of the photograph wearing a top hat.
After 1885, “Glory of the Seas” spent the rest of her long life on the Pacific coast, for a time sailing between San Francisco and Puget Sound and occasionally to Alaska. In March 1906 she was sold in San Francisco for conversion to a barge but was repaired after the April earthquake and "put under sail again".
Height: 8 feet
Weight 460 pounds approximately