Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art Business

First Advisor

Elizabeth Pergam

Second Advisor

Ann-Marie Richard


This thesis will be an examination of the motivations of nineteenth century European artists to create paintings portraying shipwrecks. I have identified four main motivations, Nature over Man, Man over Nature, Political Position, and Personal Upheaval, and will analyze various works in order to view how each motivation relates to the other. Each work analyzed falls into one or more of these categories and by studying them side by side I hope to gain a better understanding of these works unique place in art history. Additionally I will be taking a look at how depictions of shipwrecks were politicized by the public after their completion even if the artist likely had no intention of their work being political, as well as examining a work that very nearly falls into all four motivational categories simultaneously. In the end, I aim to show that works in this unique subcategory of art hold just as much meaning and importance as those in other, more studied artistic categories.