From 1827 to 1849 the Bard brothers collaborated on many paintings, and the development of their style is seen in this fully executed oil painting. Having produced their first work jointly at the age of 12, there is little difference in the painting style between the twin brothers. The present example is a testament to their gifts as self-taught artists.
Built as a dayliner in 1845, the Rip Van Winkle was the subject of several Bard paintings. As a ship that lacked speed, she was frequently used as an overnight boat and was outfitted with state rooms for this purpose. Bard created a moonlight version of the Rip Van Winkle, making it one of the few examples of his work not shown in summer daylight (Robert Morton, ed., The Bard Brothers, Painting America Under Steam and Sail (New York, 1997), p. 113). In 1872, the Rip Van Winkle was dismantled after an accident with a railway bridge near Albany.
Two examples of the Rip Van Winkle are in public collections. Both dated 1854, they include an oil painting measuring 30 x 31 7/8 inches in the Mariner's Museum in Newport News, Virginia and an oil painting measuring 31 x 53 inches in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. (Anthony J. Peluso, Jr., J & J Bard Picture Painters (New York, 1977), pp. 22, 120).