The Captain Who Burned His Ships: 1 of 2: Captain Thomas Tingey, USN, 1750-1829 by Gordon Brown

Oct 10, 2018, 12:00 AM


(Photo:William Louis Sonntag, Sr. (1822–1900) Blue pencil.svg wikidata:Q8014712

William Louis Sonntag, Sr.: On the Potomac


On the Potomac

Object type painting


English: Sonntag depicted idealized views of nature not yet affected by human development. This work dates from early in his career, when he was exploring the Potomac and Ohio Rivers for subjects. Sonntag began his career as a traveling landscape painter working in the Midwest. In 1846, after receiving a contract from the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad to record the landscapes along the rail routes, he began to enjoy a growing clientele. With the proceeds from his sales, he traveled abroad, visiting Italy in 1853 and again in 1855. In Sonntag's later works, the rendering of light and atmosphere becomes subtler, reflecting an awareness of trends in contemporary European painting.

Date 1850

Medium oil on canvas

Dimensions Height: 91.5 cm (36 in); Width: 142.3 cm (56 in) ; framed: 120.7 × 171.5 × 8.3 cm (47.5 × 67.5 × 3.2 in)

Current location 

Walters Art Museum Blue pencil.svg wikidata:Q210081

Accession number 


place of creation USA

Object history 

Miss Margaret Hodges [date and mode of acquisition unknown]

1977: given to Walters Art Museum

Exhibition history The Walters' American Collection. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2005-2006.

Credit line Gift of Miss Margaret Hodges, 1977

Source Walters Art Museum: Nuvola filesystems folder home.svg Home page Information icon.svg Info about artwork


(Reusing this file) 

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The Captain Who Burned His Ships: 1 of 2: Captain Thomas Tingey, USN, 1750-1829 by Gordon Brown

This is the first biography of Captain Thomas Tingey, who was a key figure in the development of the early U.S. Navy. Having come to America after a short service in the Royal Navy, Tingey contributed importantly to the growth of the American Navy, but was then obliged to burn the Washington Navy Yard in 1814 to prevent it from falling into the hands of British invaders. This is at the same time a history of the first quarter-century of the Washington Navy Yard, which Tingey commanded for that period, and of the transition of the young Navy from an object of partisan discord to an honored defender of a growing and increasingly self-confident nation. The book looks at Tingey's contributions to navy yard procedures and practices, his civic role in the budding city of Washington, the dramatic events of 1814, and the rebuilding of the yard as a major technical center for the navy