Riding the wave

Figurehead of a woman with crossed arms, crown with stars and floral decoration on the cutwater.

The work is in the collection of the Galata Museo del Mare in Genoa and is quite small. The female subject could indicate it was on a nineteenth-century sailing ship with a woman's name, but the presence of the crown, topped by a five-pointed star, may allude to Italy, according to a common representation in the years of national unity. The arms crossed on chest can be interpreted as a sign of peace, but also respond to the practice of not providing projecting parts of the body, prone to mutilation by the forces of wind and sea. The figurehead may have belonged to a scuna or brig-schooner of the unified kingdom, likely named with one of the frequent names at the time - Star or Star of Italy - typical of several ships sailing in those years.

(Campodonico 2002)