Antonio Nicolo Gasparo  Jacobsen (American, 1850-1921) A paddlesteamer on the Hudson??????
Lot 123
Antonio Nicolo Gasparo Jacobsen (American, 1850-1921) A side-wheel steamer rounding a bend in the Hudson River
Sold for £8,750 (US$ 14,104) inc. premium

Lot Details
Antonio Nicolo Gasparo Jacobsen (American, 1850-1921)
A side-wheel steamer rounding a bend in the Hudson River
signed and dated 'Antonio Jacobsen' and dated 1910 (lower right)
oil on board laid down onto board
56 x 91cm (22 1/16 x 35 13/16in).

Footnotes

  • This excessively rare – and potentially unique – subject by the doyen of American ship portraitists, Antonio Jacobsen, shows a typical side-wheel steamer making her way down the Hudson River, a major route into the continental hinterland which was navigable (to large vessels) from New York up as far as Albany. What is so striking about this composition however, is that the thrust of the work is very clearly the scenery rather than the steamer herself. Not only is the vessel unnamed and thus unidentifiable – a most unusual omission for any Jacobsen ship portrait – but, moreover, she seems merely an adjunct to what is essentially a full-blown topographical landscape. Although it cannot be confirmed as unique, no other comparable work by this artist has so far been either traced or noted by those who have written about him and his work, most notably Harold Sniffen of the Mariners' Museum, Newport News, Virginia.

    The painting's location has now been identified as a view, looking south, from Little Stony Point on the east side of the Hudson River, to Storm King Mountain, on the west side of the river (1,638 feet high) and on to Crow's Nest to the left (1,405 feet high). See Map of the Hudson River, copyright 1894, by Wallace Bruce, for confirmation.

    The development of steam navigation on the Hudson is a fascinating chapter in the domestic history of the United States. The burgeoning port of New York grew at an astounding pace throughout the nineteenth century and, as it did, the Hudson River assumed ever greater importance as a principal highway into the expanding city for both staple commodities as well as people. Unlike the Mississippi, which favoured 'stern-wheelers', side-wheel paddle steamers prevailed on the Hudson and these multi-decked leviathans, with their distinctive white-painted superstructure, dominated river traffic for well over a century. Like their Mississippi counterparts, the Hudson's 'side-wheelers' offered their passengers luxurious accommodation, lavish food, gambling tables and, occasionally, an epic race down-river to New York. They were, without doubt, a glamorous and indulgent form of travel which continues to be exemplified by the few remarkable survivors still plying their trade.

Saleroom notices

  • This picture has been authenticated by Anthony Peluso Jnr. from a photograph. He thinks the steamboat is likely to be the 'Onteora' – 'There are three relevant facts that attached to this Catskill Evening Line steamboat. First, Jacobsen was known to visit the Marvel Yards at Newburgh, just north of the Highlands and did sketch and paint portraits of boats being built there, including Onteora in 1909. Mariner's Museum and San Francisco Maritime Museum hold examples. Second, the Catskill Evening Line Onteora sailed regularly with travelers visiting the Catskill Mountains' wonders. And finally, Jacobsen is known to have vacationed in the vicinity of the Helderberg Mountains in the Catskills and could naturally have taken the Onteora and, perhaps, have been inspired by its passage through the Highlands'.
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