Imagine a boat or ship without an anchor. Berthing it would be difficult. The vessel could sway vigorously. It could even be carried away by strong winds and currents. Yet, notwithstanding their vital function, anchors are not often featured in art.

There are countless works of art that show vessels at anchor. But where’s the anchor? Out of sight, deep down on the sea bed. To correct this bit of artistic injustice, I have gathered the following works of art in which anchors are given the prominence they deserve.

anchor, device, usually of metal, attached to a ship or boat by a cable or chain and lowered to the seabed to hold the vessel in a particular place by means of a fluke or pointed projection that digs into the sea bottom. (Britannica)

Boy with Anchor, 1873
Watercolour and gouache with graphite
Winslow Homer (American, 1836–1910)
Courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art

Anchor and Boats, Rye, 1938
Pencil and watercolour on paper
Eric Ravilious (British, 1903–1942)
Courtesy of WikiArt: Visual Art Encyclopedia

Anchor, c. 1780
Colour woodblock print
Katsukawa Shunsho (Japanese, 1726-1792)
Courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art

Rock and Anchor, c. 1961
Oil on canvas
Morris Atkinson Blackburn (American, 1902–1979)
Courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art
NOTE : This artwork may be under copyright. It is published here under the Fair Use principle.

Ankerligten, preparing the anchor for arrival, no date
Philip Lodewijk Jacob Frederik Sadée (Dutch, 1837–1904)
Courtesy of The Athenaeum

Studie van een zeeman met een anker (Study of a sailor with an anchor), 1868–1928
Pencil and black chalk on paper
Jan Toorop (Dutch-Indonesian, 1858–1928)
Courtesy of Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Het anker (The anchor), 1861–1872
Engraving
Johann Heinrich Maria Hubert Rennefeld (Dutch, 1832–1877), after print by Jozef Israëls (Dutch, 1824–1911)
Courtesy of Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Allegory of Hope, c. between 1617 and 1618
Oil on canvas
Alessandro Turchi (Italian, 1578–1649)
Courtesy of the Detroit Institute of Arts

Boat on Beach with Anchor, early 19th century
Etching (soft-ground)
Samuel Prout (British, 1783–1852)
Courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Old Anchor, no date
Watercolour on paper
Dwight W. Tryon (American, 1849–1925)
Courtesy of The Athenaeum

~ Barista Uno

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