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Historical Materials: Vessels (Specific / Named)

Historical Materials  »  Vessels (Specific / Named)  »  "Constitution" (U.S. Frigate)

"Constitution" (U.S. Frigate)

View related Fitz Henry Lane catalog entries (2) »

The frigate "Constitution," 44 guns, was built at Boston in 1797, George Claighorne, builder. Rebuilt in 1833 with the notorious figure of Andrew Jackson fitted in 1834. Despite its mutilation, the figure was repaired and remained on the ship until 1847–48, when it was replaced by a new figure of Jackson. This second figure remained on the vessel until 1875, when it was replaced by a billethead. In subsequent restorations new billetheads were installed.

Although a figurehead is barely visible in Lane's lithograph A Yankee Ship and a Yankee Crew, 1837 (inv. 468), when the correct number of gunports at gun deck level (sixteen), together with the Boston setting, Lane's depiction of this vessel as "Constitution" appears very certain.

The same cannot be said for The "Constitution" in Boston Harbor, c.1848–49 (inv. 243), wherein the warship at center has only twelve gunports at gun deck level, reducing her rating to a sloop-of war. Because the gun deck has a spar deck above it, which can mount a limited number of guns forward and aft, this vessel could be rated as a first-class sloop of war. Her overall appearance is that of a warship rating smaller than a frigate.

– Erik Ronnberg

Related tables: Ship (Full-Rigged) »

artwork
The "Constitution" in Boston Harbor
Fitz Henry Lane
1848–49
Oil on canvas
15 3/4 x 23 1/4 in.
Hunter Museum of Art, Chattanooga, Tenn., Museum Purchase (1968.4)

Detail of navel vessel.

Citation: "Vessels (Specific / Named)." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum. http://fitzhenrylaneonline.org/historical_material/index.php?type=Vessels+%28Specific+%2F+Named%29§ion=%22Constitution%22+%28U.S.+Frigate%29 (accessed May 23, 2017).
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