Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    JOE DUNCAN GLEASON (American, 1881-1959)
    Ship at Sea
    Oil on canvas
    30 x 25 inches (76.2 x 63.5 cm)
    Signed lower right: Duncan Gleason

    It was boating - and life on the sea, in general - that steered the motley professions and avocations of the California painter Joe Duncan Gleason. Trained at the Chicago Art Institute and the New York Arts Students' League, he illustrated for various magazines, including Leslie's Monthly, Ladies Home Journal, and Forecast, from 1903 to 1914; during this period, while competing as a gymnast in national competitions, he acquired a 36-foot yawl and sailed often on Long Island Sound. Gleason's earliest paintings are Impressionist in style and depict the scenic hills of his childhood Los Angeles as well as the peopled shores of nearby Laguna Beach. A brief return to New York, from 1919 to 1924, inspired Gleason to take up marine painting, model shipbuilding, and writing about sailing: he published Windjammers, a book of etchings (1922), followed later by Islands of California (1950). In the mid-1920s, Gleason established his studio in the harbor town of San Pedro, California, and began consulting for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Warner Bros., providing visual guides for the ships that appeared in such films as Yankee Clipper, Captain Blood, and The Charge of the Light Brigade. When not painting or lecturing on historical ships, he was sailing, both with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary during WW II and recreationally with the California Yacht Club.

    From his New York base, Gleason traveled often to museums in New Bedford and Fairhaven, Massachusetts, in order to study nineteenth-century whaling ships, and Ship at Sea most likely depicts one of his favorites, the Charles W. Morgan. The deep hulls and wide decks of whaling ships were designed to accommodate whaling "factories," where around 35 crewmen labored to extract oil from whale blubber. Named for a Quaker whaling merchant, the Charles W. Morgan was launched in 1841 and sailed for nearly 80 years, making 37 trips throughout the Pacific, Indian, and South Atlantic Oceans. Gleason painted the Morgan often, no doubt fascinated by its role as the oldest and last surviving American wooden whaling ship. Here, he employs vigorous, broad brushstrokes and an Impressionist palette to suggest the vitality of the ship as it cuts through the waves.

    More information about JOE DUNCAN GLEASON, also known as Gleason, Joe Duncan, Gleason, Duncan, Joe Duncan Gleason.

    Condition Report*: Scattered paint chips and losses in bottom region heavier in lower left quadrant, otherwise good condition.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2009
    10th-11th Wednesday-Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 4,616

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

    Shipping, Taxes, Terms and Bidding
    This item cannot be shipped using standard methods. Please contact us for more information. Sales Tax information

    Important information concerning Sales Tax and Resale Certificates. Learn More

    Terms and Conditions  |  Bidding Guidelines and Bid Increments |  Glossary of Terms

    Sold on Jun 11, 2009 for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Only 12 days left to consign to the 2021 July 14 Ethnographic Art American Indian, Pre-Columbian and Tribal Art Signature Auction - Dallas!

    Learn about consigning with us

    You have done a terrific job!  I am so pleased.  Thank you for your professionalism, it's been a complete pleasure dealing with you. 
    Merti, W.,
    San Francisco, CA
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search