An artist who knew the vessels he painted firsthand, Baltimore artist Otto Muhlenfeld has captured the Great Lakes Steam Tug CALUMET in a colorful, working profile. Her American Ensign outreaches her name pennant, and a gilded pilot house eagle sits atop the unusual 360-cabin structure of her bridge. Her black funnel reaches skyward, through an atmosphere and a sea that have characteristics of folk art, always desirable in early American original artworks.
Launched in 1892 out of Milwaukee, CALUMET carries the name of the Chicago River off Lake Erie, and served primarily along the entirety of the Erie Canal route, from the lakes to Buffalo and on down the Hudson to Albany, making all points of the Atlantic Ocean possible. Later in 1913 an entire class of tugboats would carry her name and a similar design, and prove popular enough for a Calumet Shipyard to specialize in their construction.
Shown early in her career, CALUMET is painted in deep tones, and the 62.55 gross ton vessel was a capable worker, assisting vessels of all sorts. Muhlenfeld painted a series of portraits, many of them tugs, in this era, directly commissioned to portray the ships. The artist employs a level of drafting skills in the depiction of the ship's line and detail.
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