September 8th at Heart's Content, the day of the successful termination of the work of laying, recovering, completing and testing the Atlantic Telegraph Cables of 1865 and 1866
Robert Charles Dudley (British, 1826–1909)
Watercolor over graphite with touches of gouache
Sheet: 7 3/8 × 10 15/16 in. (18.8 × 27.8 cm)
Gift of Cyrus W. Field, 1892
Not on view
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 celebrators lifting Field in a chair at Heart's Content, Newfoundland after the two cables were finally declared fully operational. In 1892 Field donated art works by Dudley, commemorative medals, memorabilia, and specimens of cable to the Museum.
Inscription: Inscribed in watercolor at lower left: "R. Dudley" Inscribed in graphite at upper left of verso of mount: "#21" Inscribed in graphite at upper right of verso of mount: "87" circled Inscribed in graphite at lower right of verso of mount: "cat. 26264" Inscribed in graphite at center of verso on mount: "Heart's Content Sept. 8 1866/ The day of the successful termination of the work of laying the cables of 1865 and 1866"
Cyrus W. Field; 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, Appendix no. 23, p. 168, pp. 155-71.