The Steamer Great Western of Bristol
This lithograph depicts the ‘Great Western’, which was the first purpose-built transatlantic steamship. Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and launched in Bristol in 1837, she established the advantage of steam over sail for transatlantic travel, becoming the model for successive Atlantic paddle steamers. In this picture she is travelling under steam only, her sails furled and flags flying from all four masts, her bow and her stern. The ship’s name can be read on the mizzen mast pennant. The scene is enlivened by figures fore and aft and by a detailed sea of regular, stylised waves with flecks of foam. A lone seagull cruises above the water in the lower right of the picture and vessels leaning under sail can be seen in the background left.
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