View Looking Aft from the Port Paddle-box on the Deck of the Great Eastern: Showing the Trough for the Cable, etc.
Robert Charles Dudley (British, 1826–1909)
Watercolor with touches of gouache
Sheet: 8 15/16 x 6 1/4 in. (22.7 x 15.9 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 part of the paying-out mechanism on the deck of the Great Eastern. Figures stand on a cover over one of the ship's huge paddlewheels. In 1892 Field donated art works by Dudley, commemorative medals, memorabilia, and specimens of cable to the Museum.
Inscription: Inscribed in graphite at lower right of recto of mount: "58" Inscribed in graphite at lower right of recto of mount: "12 x 15 3/4 17" Inscribed in graphite at upper left of verso of mount: "58" [crossed out] Inscribed in graphite at upper right of verso of mount: "89" circled Inscribed in graphite at lower right of verso of mount: "cat. 26266" Inscribed in graphite at center of verso of mount: "# 51/ Deck of the Great Eastern"
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, fig. 10, p. 162, Appendix no. 17, p. 168, pp. 155-70.