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A Deck Scene on the 'Great Eastern'

Photo credit: National Maritime Museum

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This is a rare oil painting of a deck scene on board Brunel's 'Great Eastern', the largest paddle-steamer in the world. The view looks forward, up the starboard side, and until May 2017 it was identified as showing the ship during the first leg, from Sheerness to Valentia, Ireland, of its 1865 transatlantic cable-laying voyage. It has now been pointed out that the ship's fourth (of five) funnels - here shown as the closest on the left - was removed for the 1865 voyage and replaced with a cable tank. The elegant passengers on deck are also inconsistent with a cable-laying voyage. It therefore has to be concluded that the ship is shown on one of its earlier transatlantic crossings in passenger service (1860–1863) before being sold to Daniel Gooch in 1864 for conversion as a cable-layer.

National Maritime Museum





oil on canvas


H 101.6 x W 142.2 cm

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National Maritime Museum

Romney Road, Greenwich, London, Greater London SE10 9NF England

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