A Dead Whale or a Stove Boat.

Angry Whaleman with Harpoon

Field review by the editors.

New Bedford, Massachusetts

"A Dead Whale or a Stove Boat" -- a line lifted from Moby Dick -- is inscribed into this century-old sculpture. In practical terms it means either you kill the whale or the whale kills you. No wonder this statue of a guy holding a harpoon looks so grim.

Created by artist Bela Pratt to honor the town of New Bedford (then known as "The Whaling City"), the Whaleman Statue shows a bronze man, stripped to the waist, standing in the prow of a bronze whaleboat slicing through a bronze sea. All three appear to have emerged out of a 2-D granite slab inscribed with a couple of seagulls and the Melville quote.

It's a quirky use of materials and perspective, although it was criticized at first because the whaleman holds his harpoon wrong -- reminding us of the 21st century dust-up over the Cardiff Kook surfer statue -- and later because the harpooner is white (historically, most of them were not). In 2011 the mayor installed an ugly fence in front of the statue, which everyone hated. A new mayor removed the keep-away fence in 2013, so people can once again pose in front of the statue.

Angry Whaleman with Harpoon

Address:
William St., New Bedford, MA
Directions:
Downtown. On the southwest corner of William and Pleasant Sts, next to the front of the library and across the street from city hall.
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Moby Dick Movie Whalers' PulpitMoby Dick Movie Whalers' Pulpit, New Bedford, MA - < 1 mi.
Gulf Hill Ice Cream BucketGulf Hill Ice Cream Bucket, Dartmouth, MA - 4 mi.
Propane Tank CaterpillarPropane Tank Caterpillar, Westport, MA - 10 mi.
In the region:
Giant Rocky Marciano, Brockton, MA - 31 mi.

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July 21, 2019

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