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William Bradford

William Bradford


Nationality: American

Birth Place: Fairhaven (Bristol county, Massachusetts, United States)

Born in 1823, William Bradford grew up in New Bedford, Massachusetts, where whaling and other marine industries were the region’s primary sources of commerce. His Quaker parents disapproved of his aspirations to become a working artist, so he practiced sketching in his spare time as a clerk in his father’s shop.

His passion served as no more than a diversion until adulthood when he finally took a more proactive approach and began selling his maritime portraits for twenty-five dollars apiece in the early 1850s. It only took Bradford several years to save enough money to open his own studio, around which time he caught the eye of Dutch painter, Albert Van Beest. Van Beest took Bradford under his wing, and the two painted local landscapes together until he passed away in 1860.

Following the death of his mentor, Bradford expanded his travels beyond the United States and became particularly fascinated with the Arctic region. He also traveled extensively throughout the western United States, taking photographs of his various surroundings along the way. Accordingly, Bradford would often refer to his snapshots while painting, not as a crutch to replace his own memory but rather as a tool to help him recapture the panoramas in his mind.

Bradford used his creative license to complement his seascapes and marine vessels with atmospheric tones, expressive clouds and vibrant skies reflecting on the rippling tides, which gave his realistic style an impressionistic touch.


William Bradford Original Art Values Sold at Auction

Item Realized
The Hon. Paul H. Buchanan, Jr. Collection  WILLIAM BRADFORD (American, 1823-1892) Near Cape St. Johns, Coast of Labrado...
The Hon. Paul H. Buchanan, Jr. CollectionWILLIAM BRADFORD (American, 1823-1892)Near Cape St. Johns, Coast of Labrado...
Lot 77042
Auction 5024
Thursday, June 11, 2009
WILLIAM BRADFORD (American, 1823-1892) View of Northern Head at Sunrise in the Bay of Fundy, 1862 Oil on canvas 23 x
WILLIAM BRADFORD (American, 1823-1892)View of Northern Head at Sunrise in the Bay of Fundy, 1862Oil on canvas23 x ...
Lot 64105
Auction 5136
Saturday, May 11, 2013
William Bradford (American, 1823-1892) Home Port, Coast of Labrador Oil on canvas 20 x 30 inches (50.8 x 76.2 cm) Si
William Bradford (American, 1823-1892)Home Port, Coast of LabradorOil on canvas20 x 30 inches (50.8 x 76.2 cm)Si...
Lot 69102
Auction 5330
Friday, November 3, 2017
WILLIAM BRADFORD (American, 1823-1892) View from Mount Shasta Oil on paper laid on board 15-1/2 x 22-3/4 inches (39.4
WILLIAM BRADFORD (American, 1823-1892)View from Mount ShastaOil on paper laid on board15-1/2 x 22-3/4 inches (39.4...
Lot 76024
Auction 5116
Saturday, November 10, 2012
WILLIAM BRADFORD (American, 1823-1892) Iceberg, 1869 Oil on board 13-1/2 x 20-3/4 inches (34.3 x 52.7 cm) Signed low
WILLIAM BRADFORD (American, 1823-1892)Iceberg, 1869Oil on board13-1/2 x 20-3/4 inches (34.3 x 52.7 cm)Signed low...
Lot 64438
Auction 5096
Tuesday, May 15, 2012

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PLEASE NOTE: All prices realized reflect the final hammer price PLUS the buyer's premium in auctions that charge a buyer's premium. Each item has a notation at the top of the listing indicating whether that lot included a buyer's premium. All information listed is intended to be as accurate as possible, but errors are possible. Please use this guide carefully and inform us of any inaccuracies.

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