Pirates and Art by Anna Markland


Thanks to Disney, we have a rose-colored vision of what piracy really was like in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. The truth is that most pirates died after about 7 years at sea. The most common cause of death was disease. If you sleep in your own filth, while crammed together with dozens of other diseased men, you will soon meet an early death. Often there was little or no food and so malnutrition and cannibalism reared their ugly heads.

One of the things that perhaps appeals about piracy is the notion of complete freedom.  There are not many artists who voyage into the Pirate genre. One is Donald Maitz whose work is humorous and striking. His characters exhibit a cartoonist’s touch. You cannot help but stare at a face and start to feel a little bit of the drama or comedy coming out of the scene. The paintings are great story tellers and they follow that old saying about a picture being worth a thousand words.

You can see his pirate portraits on his website  https://www.paravia.com/DonMaitz/website/MaritimeHeritage/index.html

Though you may not know his name, you have seen at least one of his works. Maitz painted the famous portrait of Captain Henry Morgan which was adopted by the Morgan Rum company for the label on the bottle. “Got a little captain in ya?”

Portrait: Copyright Donald Maitz 1998