Sternboard with Derby Family Coat-of-Arms
40 11/16 x 21 1/4 x 7 3/8 in. (103.3 x 54 x 18.8 cm)
Medium and Support:
Wood and paint
The Charles A. Carruth Memorial Fund
Location: Not currently on view
It was a common practice to decorate the bows and sterns of sailing ships with sculptures made by expert carvers. Often, these creations were embellished with painted carved figures—hence the term 'figurehead'—and occasionally symbols that identified the ship's owner. This sternboard has both. It would have been placed in the rear - the stern - of the ship. Tradition has it that the sternboard's ship was owned by Elias Derby, a prodigiously wealthy merchant from Salem, Massachusetts whose fleet of ships traveled to remote parts of the world carrying trade goods.
[Gallery label text, 2002]