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An Aye For Detail

Artist Ed Cortez brings history to life with meticulously researched and built model ships of the Revolutionary War era

The artist holds a book that includes drawings and plans for the Bonhomme Richard, a ship that was captained by John Paul Jones during the Revolutionary War. “The Bonhomme Richard will probably be the next ship model I build.”

The artist holds a book that includes drawings and plans for the Bonhomme Richard, a ship that was captained by John Paul Jones during the Revolutionary War. “The Bonhomme Richard will probably be the next ship model I build.”

Ed Cortez has been an artist virtually his entire life. And it is his love of history that has powered the direction of his art and stoked his passion for creating exquisitely intricate and accurate models and drawings of Revolutionary War-era ships. He arguably devotes as much time to researching the ships and the period as he does in building his models, so they are as historically authentic as possible, down to the finest detail. 

Taught to draw by his older brother, Cortez drew constantly as a boy, often on whatever surface was available. This included his sheet music tucked in a white binder for rehearsals. The Brooklyn native was a member of the prestigious boys’ choir of the Church of the Transfiguration in New York City. It was his choir director, who was also his godfather, who drew Cortez’s attention to nautical art. 

“He had a sailboat and took me sailing on Long Island Sound, which was how I first became interested in sailing and sailboats.” Cortez says. “He was a brilliant man and interested in many things, and we would often go to the Mystic Seaport to see the Morgan.”  The Charles W. Morgan, a whaling ship built and launched in 1841, is on display at the Museum of America and the Sea in Mystic, Connecticut.

That is where it started. “I became a history buff, and my love of ship model building is supported by my love of history.”