Samuel Colman, Jr. (1832–1920)

Ships Unloading, New York, 1868

Oil on canvas mounted on board, 41 5/16 x 29 15/16 in. (105.0 x 76.0 cm). Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1984.4

During the 1860s, the landscape painter Samuel Colman Jr. demonstrated a particular talent for painting vessels along the Hudson River in New York. This image focuses on the packet-boat cargo ship Glad Tidings (seen at center), which transported cotton from the United States to Britain from 1856 to 1874. The work may have been commissioned to commemorate transfer of the ship’s ownership from William Nelson to his son, William Nelson Jr., in 1868. It combines Colman’s interest in maritime scenes with characteristics of his early manner, which are indebted to the Hudson River school for their exacting details and broad vistas. A study in contrasts, Colman’s view of the bustling wharf pairs vessels powered by sail and steam. The juxtaposition of oil barrels at left with large bales of cotton on the right memorializes the once-thriving enterprise of cotton production that soon would be supplanted by new commodities such as petroleum.

Learn more about this painting on the Terra Foundation website.