Oct 24, 2007

Deck Scene of the Great Eastern

Deck Scene of the Great Eastern


Robert Howlett

(British, 1831–1858)

Albumen print from wet collodion negative

Image: 28.4 x 36 cm (11 3/16 x 14 3/16 in.); Matted: 50.8 x 61 cm (20 x 24 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1996.355



A leading professional photographer of the mid-1850s, Robert Howlett is best known for his extended group of photographs documenting the construction and launching of the Great Eastern steamship. Designed by one of the greatest engineers of his time, I.K. Brunel, the Great Eastern took over four years to construct and, because of its immense size, an unprecedented three months to launch. For over forty years, the Great Eastern was the largest steamship ever constructed and it became a symbol of Great Britain's national pride and industrial supremacy. In this image, Howlett has captured the steamship's deck in the midst of construction while laborer's stand idly in the background and gentleman and engineers seem to confer in the foreground.

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