Elisha Taylor Baker

Title:  Seascape, Ship near Shore

Artist:  Elisha Taylor Baker (American, 1827-1890)

Medium: Oil on artist board.

Size: 9” high x 12” wide.

Date:  19th  century

Signature: Signed lower right.

About:  There is a partial label on the back.

Item  A856





Elisha Taylor Baker Biography


Elisha Baker was a marine painter with first-hand knowledge of his subject. Born in New York City, he spent his formative years with his extended family in the whaling ports of Colchester, Connecticut. He married a local woman in 1851, and likely joined in the lucrative whale oil and baleen trades.

He first formally registered as an artist back in New York City in 1868. This occupation change was likely prompted by the heavy destruction inflicted upon the northern whaling fleets during the American Civil War. The dozens of known works by Baker indicate the shift was profitable and, artistically speaking, highly merited. His early works are often attributed to him, while he later signed ‘E. Taylor Baker’, ‘E.T. Baker’ and developed a distinct intertwined initial monogram by the late 1880s.

He painted in the draftsman style of his later contemporaries, proving to be a prominent influence toward many of their professions. Still, he enhanced his works with flashes of luminescence, which progressed from the Hudson River School through the works of Fitz Hugh Lane and William Bradford.

Not favoring any particular style of ship, he painted all types. His best known work is of the new London whale ship George, captained by his relative, William M. Baker.

He traveled throughout New England and is thought to have traveled to the British Isles in the 1880s. Baker died in 1890 in Orange, Connecticut. His works are in the collections of the New Bedford Whaling Museum, the Mariners’ Museum, and Mystic Seaport. As late as 1979 only twenty-four paintings by Baker had been recorded; eleven others were subsequently attributed to him.