Ossining Historian to Sail the South Seas to Follow 19th Century Voyage of Ossining Artist Alfred Agate

Alfred Agate , c. 1838 Courtesy of the New York Historical Society

This summer, Caroline Ranald Curvan, Ossining’s Town Historian, will take a research trip to the South Pacific to learn more about Ossining artist Alfred Agate and his life as an illustrator on the US Exploring Expedition of 1838-1842.

Born in Sparta (now part of Ossining) in 1812, Agate would serve as one of two illustrators on the most ambitious and challenging expedition of the time.

Agate’s sketches, drawings, and paintings were essential in documenting this historic journey, one vital to the growth of science in the United States, the evolution of navigation, and the development of the fields of anthropology and botany.  The images and artifacts collected became the nucleus of the Smithsonian Museum, and some of the maps and charts created were still in use in the 20th century.

Agate’s life was cut short at the age of 33 from tuberculosis, likely contracted on the Expedition, but his work is forever preserved in the Smithsonian Institution, the Naval History and Heritage Command, The New-York Historical Society and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Curvan will sail as voyage crew on the Bark Europa, a Dutch tall ship, following part of the route Agate traveled, from Papeete, Tahiti to Nadi, Fiji, a 35-day voyage. She will be able to immerse herself in Agate’s world and experience just a bit of what it was like to be a sailor/explorer in the past.

Upon her return, Curvan will present her observations and experiences to the community.

The Bark Europa Photo Ossining Historical Society

She will be blogging about this journey, and you can read the first installment here:   http://ossininghistoryontherun.com/2024/05/29/ossining-the-us-exploring-expedition-of-1838-1842/



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