View of the Steam Ship President

Made:
1840 in London
publisher:
Ackermann and Company
maker:
William Adolphus Knell
engraver:
Henry Papprill

Colour aquatint depicting a view of the Steam Ship 'President', by Henry A Papprill after William Adolphus Knell, published by Ackermann & Company, London, 1840. Shows the steamship in starboard-broadside view, in full sail with flags flying. Small ships approach with passengers and coastline is visible behind. The inscription below 'This View of the Steam Ship President, is with permission / most respectfully dedicated to the British and American Steam Navigation Company, by their obedt & humble Servants, / Ackermann & Compy' followed by details of the ship, it's makers and commander.

The Steam Ship President was the largest ship in the world when commissioned in 1840, the proud point in its history that this print commemorates. It was an early example of a transatlantic passenger steam liner, driven by paddle wheels, following on the heels of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s pioneering SS Great Western (1837) and pre-dating his SS Great Britain.

In fact, President’s story is one of failure, although no less significant for that. Described by Stephen Fox as ‘a big, gaudy turkey’, the ship was underpowered, with poor hydrodynamics and immediately unreliable. Brunel once said ‘What on earth or water is the President about?’ A year after launch in 1840, the President disappeared in the North Atlantic, killing 110 people in the world’s first transatlantic steamship disaster.

Details

Category:
Art
Object Number:
2017-137
Materials:
ink and paper (fibre product)
Measurements:
overall (estimate): 550 mm x 755 mm
type:
aquatint
credit:
In memory of Irene Barrowcliffe