To love a painting is to feel that this presence is… not an object but a voice.

~ Andre Malraux ~


longfellowsgarden 049


 The Portland


Antonio Jacobson


U.S.S. Portland, S. S. Packet Company Daily line between Portland and Boston

Art does so many different things, from enriching us with beauty, to allowing us to see places and people long gone, and capturing history. Had I not read the information card, next to this painting, at the Portland Museum of Art, my mind would only imagine the romance of travel on the high seas – a journey between Portland to Boston by ship . . . strolling on the deck, chatting with the fellow passengers, taking tea in the parlor, but there is much more to this piece of art.

“Built in Bath, Maine, in 1898, the Portland was once of the largest, fastest, and most luxurious steamboats of her day. In this detailed portrait, Antonino Jacobsen glorified the ship’s stately beauty and power as she cuts through the seas.  The vessel dominates the composition and, despite the rolling waves, maintains a perfectly even keel.  A typical format for ship portraits, this horizontally oriented, profile pose allows the artist to convey the maximum amount of visual information about the nautical architecture.

Jacobsen’s painting betrays no hint of the tragedy that would befall the Portland.  On November 27, 1898, while traveling her regular route between Boston and Portland, the steamer was sunk off the tip of Cape Cod by a fierce gale.  All 192 passengers and crew members were lost, including a Maine Senator and 10 percent of the congregation of Portland’s Abyssinian Meeting House (a center of the city’s African American community).  The shipwreck remains the worst Maine disaster in New England history.”

Art can never exist without naked beauty displaced.

~ William Blake ~ 

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