Diorama (or Shadowbox) depicting Newburyport Harbor, Newburyport, Massachusetts, Maker unknown, first half of the nineteenth century.
Wood, mahogany frame, glass, brass, and paper; 43” x 24 3/8” x 9 ½”
This large shadowbox shows five vessels with a village scene in the background that is believed to represent Newburyport, Massachusetts. The vessels in the busy port include a bark, two schooners, a brig and a sloop. Their rigs date them to before the Civil War. The story is that these shadowboxes were a popular art form for seafarers, as the boxes would protect the work from damage in rough seas. However, shadowboxes are found showing other subjects so that these may have been done when a sailor was ashore. Certainly the level of detail in them show that the maker was quite knowledgeable about the sea.