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George Taylor, Master ShipbuilderEnlarge image

George Taylor, Master Shipbuilder, 1843

Samuel Palmer
British
oil on canvas
92.5 x 84.5 cm
Purchased 2010
National Gallery of Canada (no. 43036)
Photo © NGC

Samuel Palmer has represented the master shipbuilder with remarkable realism, making no attempt to attenuate the ravages of age. On the contrary, the artist seems to have taken pleasure in portraying each of the corpulent giant's physical attributes, from the coarse hand with its veiny fingers slipped inside the silk jacket, to the drooping cheeks, double chin, lined face and bald head. On the right, behind the sofa, is a still life that holds a unique place in Canadian art and that evokes a high point of the model's career: on a table sits the silver cup presented to George Taylor by Lord Dalhousie at the launch of the "King Fisher" in 1827. This image of a man marked by a life of perseverance and hard work is evidently far more than a simple portrait.

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