COLLECTION: Decorative Sculpture

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ca. 1875-1900
Origin: Maine, Kittery Point (probably)
7 3/4" X 26 1/4"
Wood, gesso, paint
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1969.701.1
Carved and polychromed wood eagle with curved neck and spread wings. A striped shield forms the lower potion of the eagle's breast. The eagle has curving and straight incised lines which imitate the pattern of feathers. Below the wingspan is a nearly horizontal pole, from which flows a red painted pennant. At the pole end, a five point star has been cut into the wood and accented with gilding. At the terminal end, the capitalized text "CARPE DIEM" has been painted in on a yellow-white reserve.
Label:John Bellamy was employed by the Boston and Portsmouth shipyards to carve figureheads, decorative stern boards, gangway panels, and various other kinds of decorations for naval and mercantile vessels. His most ambitious commission was probably the eagle figurehead he carved for the U.S.S. Lancaster, which had a wingspread of over 18 feet and weighed more than 3,000 pounds.

Bellamy is best known today for the dozens of small eagles that he probably carved as gifts for friends. Many of these birds grasp banners bearing inscriptions that range from “Happy New Year” to the “Carpe Diem” (Latin for “Seize the day”) appearing on Colonial Williamsburg’s example.
Inscription(s):In red paint on pennant, "CARPE DIEM."
Faint "CA" is visible in the red portion of the pennant, possibly from an earlier paint scheme.