"Leaving New York Harbor" Signed lower right 'JB'. Oil on canvas. 20 inches high X 24 inches wide. 24 1/2 inches high X 28 1/2 inches wide framed. Mounted in an old gilded frame. Condition: minor craquelure-wax relined. Smithsonian Institution label on verso.
A very rare view of a frigate, possibly the Congress,leaving New York Harbor. In the left background is Trinity Church on Wall Street and Federal Hall-City Hall on Broadway, which was built in 1812. The Congress, a 2nd rate frigate, commanded by Commodore James Biddle, underwent exstensive modifications prior to a mission to sail to Spain and then Argentina. Recently appointed diplomats, Hugh Nelson to Spain and Caesar A. Rodney to Argentina. Rodney, his wife and eleven children, along with their furniture and household goods caused Biddle to remark that "the Rodneys were shipping enough to fill a small merchant ship". The quarter deck of the vessel in this picture is inordinately high and this leads to the conjecture that this ship is the Congress. It is tempting to think that JB at the lower right corner is not the arist's initials but stands for the Commodore, James Biddle. The Congress sailed from Wilmington, Delaware on 8 June, 1823 and returned to Norfolk, Virginia on 17 December. This was her last assignment. She was relegated to home waters and in 1834 was decommissioned and broken up.
The frigate flies a signal from the foremast signifying "All aboard,vessel proceeding to sea." There are two vessels in the distance that are in the process of raising sails which may indicate that this is a squadron leaving port. The small vessel in the left fore ground is likely a Pilot's boat.