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John Haley Bellamy: Carver of Eagles

: $20.00
Publisher / Author: Portsmouth Marine Society
ISBN: 0915819333

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No. 1 - John Haley Bellamy: Carver of Eagles
By: Yvonne Brault Smith

John Haley Bellamy (1836-1914) has become one of America’s best known woodcarvers. His so-called Bellamy hanging wall eagle is frequently copied by contemporary carvers and his individual pieces are actively collected. His most famous work is the Lancaster eagle figurehead, on permanent display at the Mariner’s Museum in Newport News, Virginia. Weighing 3,200 pounds with an eighteen foot wingspan, it is a marvel of artistic and engineering ingenuity.

A native of Kittery Point, Maine, Bellamy never considered himself an artist and signed few of his pieces, but his carvings are so distinctive that experts can easily identify them. Bellamy’s eagles show a simplicity of design, form and shape, yet he gave his birds a swing, a feeling of action and movement. He also produced other animals, furniture and decorative cases for ships as well as Masonic frames and clock cases.

Despite his great talent, Bellamy led a troubled, restless life, often moving from job to job, sometimes working for as little as $2.50 per day at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard where he carved the Lancaster eagle. He also worked in Portsmouth, New Hampshire as well as Charlestown and Boston, Massachusetts.

In writing this book, author Smith was able to utilize family papers and correspondence, long thought lost but recovered in the 1970’s, to reveal aspects of Bellamy’s life that long puzzled and confused other authors. She also explores his carving methods and techniques. More than 60 illustrations and newly drawn patterns provide an overview of this unusual craftsman.

Portsmouth Marine Society

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