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Shipwreck near a Rocky Coast

A work made of oil on canvas.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of oil on canvas.




Thomas Birch
American, born England, 1779–1851

About this artwork

Based in Philadelphia, Thomas Birch was a leading marine painter who helped establish the genre in early 19th-century America. Shipwreck near a Rocky Coast is a romantic, imaginative composition that highlights human struggle against the forces of nature: the ship’s sails are torn, its masts lean to one side, and a tiny group of seafarers attempts to flee the disaster. Birch rendered the scene in dramatic detail, yet left the narrative unresolved.


On View, Gallery 171


Arts of the Americas


Thomas Birch


Shipwreck near a Rocky Coast


United States (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Oil on canvas


Signed at lower right: "T Birch 1833"


51.4 × 76.8 cm (20 1/4 × 30 1/4 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of the family of Richard H. Daniel

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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Extended information about this artwork

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