One of the 19th century's great technological achievements was to lay a telegraphic cable beneath the Atlantic, allowing messages to speed back and forth between North America and Europe in minutes, rather than ten or twelve days by steamer. An initially successful attempt in 1858, led by Cyrus W. Field and financed by the Atlantic Telegraph Company, failed after three weeks. Two working cables were finally laid in July and September 1866, the result of repeated efforts by the indefatigable Field, a cadre of engineers, technicians, and sailors, two groups of financial backers, and significant help from the British and United States navies. Dudley documented the process in a series of watercolors and oils, this example showing the Great Eastern and support convoy moving west in 1865. In 1892 Field donated art works by Dudley, commemorative medals, memorabilia, and specimens of cable to the Museum.
Signature: in watercolor at lower right: "R. Dudley"
Inscription: Inscribed in graphite at lower left of recto of mount: "Plate 30" Inscribed in graphite at lower right of recto of mount: "15" Inscribed in graphite at upper left of verso of mount: "#5" Inscribed in graphite at upper right of verso of mount: "88" circled Inscribed in graphite at lower right of verso of mount: "cat. 26265" Inscribed in graphite at center of verso of mount: "Telegraph Cable Fleet at Sea 1865"
Donor: Cyrus W. Field
Josephine C. Dobkin "Metropolitan Museum Journal" The Laying of the Atlantic Cable: Paintings, Watercolors, and Commemorative Objects Given to the Metropolitan Museum by Cyrus W. Field. 41, 2006, pp. 155-71.