William Bradford, a marine painter of the 19th century, was celebrated on both sides of the Atlantic for his arctic scenes. Born a Quaker in 1823 in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, (near New Bedford, Massachussetts) Bradford liked art from an early age, but was educated more practically in business. Since he lived in a seaport town, ships were available subjects. Bradford painted many of them, selling the ship portraits and earning a good income. His paintings were so popular that Queen Victoria purchased one in 1873. Bradford extended his studies of ships to views of shore and sea, visiting picturesque regions along the North Atlantic coastline. He is known for his remarkably accurate representations of coastal scenes in New England, Nova Scotia and Labrador.
During several trips to Labrador, including exploratory polar expeditions, Bradford photographed and made original studies of this frozen world. He saw remarkable colors in icebergs–blue, green, purple, and gray, shot through with saffron.
Bradford’s art can be found in numerous museums and private collections throughout the world. In 2003 the New Bedford Whaling Museum presented a major exhibition of Bradford’s art and published a 178-page book to accompany the exhibition, authored by Richard Kugler.