About this artwork
At the turn of the 19th century, conflict arose between the United States of America and the North African Barbary State of Tripoli. President Thomas Jefferson refused to continue to pay tribute or ransom to Tripoli to prevent the pirating of American merchant ships sailing in the Mediterranean Sea. Jefferson dispatched the American ship Enterprise to the Tripolitan waters as a sign of resistance just as Tripoli increased its tribute demands and declared war against the United States. Thomas Birch, an early specialist in maritime painting, captured the battle between the Enterprise and a Tripolitan cruiser in the Mediterranean’s dark, violent waters. The break in the clouds sheds light on this conflict and illuminates Birch’s fine details and precise rendering of these ships.
- Thomas Birch
- Capture of the Tripoli by the Enterprise
- c. 1806–1812
- Oil on canvas
- On back: "Capture of the Corsair Tripoli by the / Enterprise under Sterrett and Porter / Off Malta August 1803 / T. Birch, Pinxit."
- 45.1 × 65.1 cm (17 3/4 × 25 5/8 in.)
- Through prior acquisition of the Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester Collection