Boat models from olden times and their ageless charm

by | Dec 2, 2021 | Maritime Art, Culture and History

Boat models may not look as magnificent as a scaled-down replica of a Spanish galleon. Even so, they can exude a certain charm that would delight the viewer, especially one who loves the sea and watercraft. In addition, they can open a window to the maritime past of certain cultures.

The following is a small gallery of boat models. The last two, both from ancient Egypt, show that water transport and the craft of boat modelling go back many centuries. The last one depicting a mummy being transported on a boat underlines the strong connection between this seemingly mundane craft and the Egyptian belief in the spiritual world.

If a man must be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most. A small sailing craft is not only beautiful, it is seductive and full of strange promise and the hint of trouble.

— E.B. White, “The Sea and the Wind that Blows” (1963 essay)

Model of a Lifeboat, Netherlands, c. 1870 – c. 1876
Maker: Adriaan Rosel
Material: wood, brass, rope, textile, leather and paint
Dimensions: height 73 cm × length 96.5 cm × width 21.4 cm
Courtesy of Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Model of a Boyer from North Holland, c. 1757
Material: wood, rope
Dimensions: height 155 cm × length 150 cm × width 40 cm
Courtesy of Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Model of a Marker Waterschip (Dutch fishing vessel), Netherlands, c. 1850 – c. 1870
Material: wood, brass, rope and textile
Dimensions: height 96 cm × length 100 cm × width 30.2 cm
Courtesy of Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Half Model of a Fishing Boat, Netherlands, c. 1780 – c. 1820
Material: wood and paint
Dimensions: height 26.5 cm × length 72.9 cm × width 12.5 cm
Courtesy of Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Model of a Gaff-Rigged Gunboat, Rotterdam, 1835
Material: wood, brass, bronze, lead, mica, rope and textile
Dimensions: height 103 cm × length 86 cm × width 39 cm
Courtesy of Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Kayak Model with Hunter,Aleutian Islands, Alaska, 1840–50
Materials: gutskin, fur, wood, sinew, pigment
Dimensions: height 10.2 cm x length 30.5 cm x width 5.1 cm
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Canoe Model with Dolls, Nova Scotia, c. 1860
Materials: Canoe: birchbark, wood, quill; Dolls: Silk, cotton, wool, glass, resin
Dimensions: height 12.1 cm x length 55.9 cm x width 12.1 cm
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Travelling Boat being Rowed, Egypt, c. 1981–1975 B.C.
Material: wood, paint, gesso, linen twine and linen fabric
Dimensions: length 128 cm (50 3/8 in), with rudder 175 cm (68 7/8 in) x height 37 cm x width with oars 30.5 cm
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Click here to read the interesting story behind this boat model.

Model Sailing Boat Transporting a Mummy, Egypt,
c. 1900–1885 B.C.
Material: wood, paint
Dimensions: length 115 cm x height 46.5 cm x width 19 cm
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Click here for a more detailed description of this boat model.

~ Barista Uno

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