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Untitled photograph of the clipper ship INDEPENDENCE

Date: Late 19th century
Overall: 570 x 690 x 22 mm, 3.42 kg
Medium: Gelatin silver print in frame
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Object Name: Photograph
Object No: 00033618
Place Manufactured:Boston

User Terms

    This photograph depicts the three-masted clipper ship INDEPENDENCE from its port side and sailing at sea fully rigged. The vessel was built in America during the 1870s but sunk when a tidal wave hit Peru while it was loading guano. This photograph was taken during a time when clipper ships were falling in popularity and steam ships were beginning to dominate maritime trade.
    SignificanceThis photograph is representative of the work of well known 19th century American photographer Nathaniel L Stebbins. It is a unique visual record of the INDEPENDENCE and sailing ships during the late 19th century.
    HistoryDuring the 19th century marine artists were painting ship portraits in ports around the world. Many of the artists received commissions from foreign patrons who owned ships or worked on them. With the rise of photography during the late-19th century sailing ships were also captured in photographs. Silver gelatin prints became one of the most common forms of photographs after the 1870s. They were created by coating paper with a film of gelatin and light-sensitive silver materials which captured an image when exposed to light.

    The era of the clipper ships occurred between 1845 and 1875. These ships generated a sense of romance, competition, national pride and innovative technology. The sleek and graceful ships were a symbol of American modernity and fundamental to the expanding global economy. Their design concentrated on speed instead of cargo capacity, a great benefit to shipping companies eager to transport goods quickly. In the end, clipper ships lost out to steamships, which were able to pass through the recently opened Suez Canal and deliver a faster and more reliable service. The late 19th century saw a period of transition from clipper ships to larger steam powered vessels.
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