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William Bradford was an American painter, explorer, photographer, and Romanticist. He was associated with the Hudson River School and became primarily known for his marine and landscape paintings depicting the Arctic region.
Information on Bradford’s life is quite scarce. He was a self-taught artist. At the beginning of his career, Bradford often depicted the ships arriving or departing from the New Bradford harbor, as well as creating seascapes surrounding the coasts of Massachusetts, Nova Scotia, and Labrador.
William Bradford participated in several expeditions to the Arctic led by Doctor Isaac Israel Hayes, a distinguished physician, politician, and Arctic explorer, making Bradford the first American artist to depict the gelid regions of the north.
In 1869, helped by the funds provided by LeGrand Lockwood, Bradford, alongside photographers George Critcherson and John L. Dunmore, journeyed to the Arctic aboard the steamship Panther. Following his return, Bradford would spend two years in London, where he published a book depicting the Arctic region illustrated with photographs.
In 1874, Bradford was appointed as an Associate Member of the National Academy of Design in New York City. In the following year, his painting Steamer Panther in Melville Bay under the Light of the Midnight was displayed at the Royal Academy in London.
William Bradford’s style was somewhat inspired by Albert van Beest, who worked with him for a period. The artist also became associated with the Hudson River School, adopting their techniques and becoming increasingly avid into rendering light and the effects it had on the water and atmospheric effects. In his pictures, Bradford often balanced the composition by adding darker tones around the central motifs of his paintings, thus creating a kind of framing to these subjects.
William Bradford died on April 25, 1892.