One of Kennebec, Maine’s capable sailing barks, FRANCIS S. HAMPSHIRE was sailing from her home port of New York Harbor when captured by Jacobsen on canvas in 1899. The ship had begun her career as the C. SOUTHARD HULBERT, one of a handful of American barks built in the 1880s, in this case, 1881. Measuring 178.5' L x 35.6' B x 21.2' D, she weighed a gross 1,079 tons and was built by the indomitable T.J. Southard & Son of Richmond, 12 miles up the Kennebec River from Bath, Maine.
The Maine shipyards, especially in Richmond, were popular businesses throughout the mid-19th century, and remained profitable even with the arriving domination of steam power. By the ‘80s the rare barks were sought for their diverse function as coastal merchants. Still, T.J. Southard, or Jeffie as he was called by friends, was a dominant political and commercial figure in coastal Maine for decades.
By 1899 the ship was renamed under new ownership and painted by Jacobsen. The ship would sell to another owner within the decade and list Perth Amboy, New Jersey as her home port in 1913. American sailing ship portraits by the artist are a very sought after commodity, and ones such as this with tight technical detail combined with its pleasant yet subtle atmosphere are among the top of his output. Under her full compliment of sails and with all her flags flying, it is a grand portrait of an American classic bark, signed with the artist’s West Hoboken address.
Another 1899 oil Of this ship by Jacobsen is in the collection
Of the Mariner’s Museum, Newport News, VA.
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