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Clifford Warren Ashley

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Clifford Warren Ashley (1881-1947) was an American illustrator and painter. He was known for his images of maritime subjects and was active during the first half of the 20th century. Ashley was born and spent his youth in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The town had been a prominent whaling town, but the industry was dying out by the time of the artist’s birth. He started his art education under the tutelage of the artist George Noyes. Afterward, he moved to Wilmington, Delaware, to study with Howard Pyle. He embarked on a whaling expedition in 1904 and then would reside in Massachusetts for the remainder of his life . In the early part of his career, Ashley was an illustrator, working for such magazines as “Harper’s Monthly” and “Leslie’s Monthly Magazine.” Around 1910 Ashley started painting. His style was rough and impressionistic to show the movement and essence of the ocean. He was a painter of genre scenes and recorded images of the waning business of whaling he hoped to preserve. Ashley’s work was put in exhibitions generally shown around Massachusetts in The New Bedford Art Club, The Doll and Richards Club in Boston, and the New Bedford Whaling Museum. In the latter half of his career, he returned to being an illustrator and was well-known for his contributions like She Blows and Sparm at That! (1922) and Harpoon: The Story of a Whaling Voyage (1935). His most important work was The Ashley Book of Knots (1944), a comprehensive collection of maritime knots. Ashley spent the remaining years of his life at his home in Westport Point, Massachusetts, before dying in 1947.

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