Skip to main content
Flying Fish in a Gale

Alfred Agate Collection

The artworks used in this exhibition are taken from the "Agate Collection" of drawings at the Navy Art Collection. Alfred Agate created many of these during his service with the United States Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842 or in the preparation of the report of the Expedition. On his death in 1846 the drawings passed to his widow, Elizabeth Hill Kennedy Agate, who later married Dr. William J. C. Du Hamel of Washington, D.C. In 1926, one of her daughters from this marriage, Elizabeth A. Du Hamel, sold them to the Naval Historical Foundation. The Naval Historical Foundation donated them to the Navy Art Collection in 1998.

Note that while Agate witnessed many of the scenes included here, some he did not and therefore those images must be based on other eyewitness accounts or sketches.  Also, in referring to the illustration credits as listed in the five volume Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition, some of the illustrations in this collection are ascribed to someone other than Alfred Agate. We accept these attributions, noting that the drawings of this exhibit were included in the Du Hamel sale, and that while his health permitted, Agate participated in working sketches of the expedition into illustrations for the published report.  Many of the drawings have identifications written on them by someone who tried to organize the collection at an unknown later date. 


At some time during its ownership by the Naval Historical Foundation, other artworks came to be included in the collection, known to be of a later date and by artists not associated with the U.S. Exploring Expedition. These items seem to pertain to the naval expeditions that resulted in the Treaties of Wangxia and Kanagawa. Until their true provenance is known, they are included at the end of this exhibit.