The 17th Century Warship
No 17th century warship epitomized this concept more than Sovereign of the Seas, built in 1637 by master ship builder Peter Pett for Charles I of England. The decorations alone cost more than a normal warship of the time. In fact, the ship was so expensive, that Charles imposed a special tax on the population of England. This was so unpopular that it eventually let to his overthrow by Oliver Cromwell.
The sovereign, and many other ships of the time, carried over 100 cannon and a crew of over 500 men. imagine the supplies required to both fight a sea battle and sustain this many men over an extended voyage. The combination of artistic design and awesome power, all in the 1600's, make these ships the source of endless fascination 400 years later.
Ships and boats have been included in art from almost the earliest times, but marine art only began to become a distinct genre during the 17th century. Marine painting rose to prominance during the Dutch Golden Age of painting, reflecting the importance of overseas trade and naval power to the Dutch Republic. This period saw the first career marine artists, who painted little else. Today these paintings are highly prized and, when available, sell for mutiple millions of dollars.
In the Ancient world, ships were among the most technologically complex mechanisms built by man. Thus, ships carried a great deal of significance to the people and this is expressed partly through the creation of boat and ship models. While archaeologists have found ship and boat models from societies all around the Mediterranean, the three most prolific ship model building cultures were the Greeks, Phoenicians, and Egyptians.
Today, several companies supply beautiful and intricate wooden ship model kits to people who want to spend hundreds, and sometimes, thousands of hours, recreating the ships of the 17th century in minature. These kits are based on "plank on frame" construction, with each hull plank steamed and bent individually.
(Sitewide navigational note: click on each painting for an expanded view. Click on CLOSE when finished.)