Moby Dick

Henry McCarter

Henry McCarter was one of the earliest Academy faculty members to reflect a modernist sensibility. In France he had apprenticed in the lithography workshop of artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Fascinated by myth and mysticism, he spent nine months at Trinity College in Dublin studying Irish folklore and the ninth-century illuminated Book of Kells. When he returned to America he became one of New York’s most sought-after magazine illustrators. McCarter experimented with subjective, expressive color, arbitrary light effects, and attempted to represent sound visually. He shared these concerns with other modernists in the United States and in Europe. His openness to new ideas influenced his students, who included important American artists Ivan Albright, Arthur B. Carles, and Charles Demuth. Moby Dick reveals McCarter’s ability to reinterpret the narrative and dramatic themes of Herman Melville’s complex novel through a surging of form and movement. Part fantasia on the psychological tension of tale and part nightmare featuring a corpse-like Captain Ahab tethered to the whale, Moby Dick is among McCarter’s most forcefully original paintings.
Date of Birth
by 1927
Oil on canvas
34 11/16 x 42 in. (88.1 x 106.7 cm.)
Accession #
Credit Line
Gift Mrs. Morris Wenger