Shipwreck, ca. 1827–28
Thomas Cole (American, 1801–1848)
Graphite on off–white wove paper; 4 5/8 x 6 3/8 in. (11.7 x 16.2 cm)
Gift of Erving Wolf Foundation, in memory of Diane R. Wolf, 1977 (1977.182.2)
This small graphite drawing is one of at least three with this title included in the same 1977 gift, all assumed to be products of a meeting of the Sketch Club, founded in 1827 by New York artists who gathered monthly to fashion individual compositions on an agreed-upon theme. In this Shipwreck, it is unsurprising that Cole, a landscapist who seldom painted marines, barely suggested the titular subject of the drawing in the vague smoke and skein of seabirds rising from the water in the distance and the possible presence of a lifeboat at right. More characteristically, he emphasized the terrestrial forms of boulder and tree in the foreground setting off the sea, which has long since swallowed the ill-fated vessel.