Posner Collection

ART – Examine the growing collection of paintings, half-models, and maritime artwork by noteworthy artists from the 19th and 20th centuries that is the Posner Collection. The family of Helen and Henry Posner, Jr. generously shared this collection, which SSHSA stewards.

To view more from the Posner Maritime Art Collection, check out SSHSA’s Virtual Museum.


RMS Britannic & RMS Celtic at Queenstown, Ireland
by Parker Greenwood
Oil on canvas, 12″ x 18″


SS Britannic towing SS Celtic by George Parker Greenwood, c. 1884. From the Posner Maritime Art Collection, SSHSA Archives.

British artist and former Cunard Line Ship’s Officer, Parker Greenwood created this painting.  The signature, “P. Greenwood,” in the lower right of the painting, has been compared to an almost identical Greenwood painting.  

This painting, c. 1884, depicts two White Star Line ships, the RMS Britannic (I) built in 1873 by Harland and Wolff of Ireland,  towing the damaged RMS Celtic (I) (1872), probably back to Liverpool, England for repairs. The Roches Lighthouse, at the entrance to Queenstown, Ireland (now Cork Harbor) is on the right.  Note the British type paddle tug to the right of Britannic.  Also note the American courtesy flags on the foremasts of the still sail-rigged steamships.  The ships were probably going to New York from Liverpool before the incident that damaged the Celtic. Tow lines between the two steamships can be seen draped from the stern of Britannic to the bow of CelticThe late Sam Davidson, author of Marine Art and Liverpool and four other books about British marine artists provided this information.

The Liverpool city directories listed Parker Greenwood as a mariner as early as 1881, and later as an artist.  He received commissions from both the Cunard and White Star Lines. Greenwood is particularly known for his fine paintings of their Transatlantic liners between 1880 and 1910.  Although often referred to as George Parker Greenwood, his birth name was Parker.  However, there was a maritime artist who signed “G. P. Greenwood,” perhaps a relative.  For more information about Parker Greenwood’s paintings see the following web sites:

Blue World Web Museum

Art UK: George Parker Greenwood

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SS Drenthe
signed “DGY”
Oil on canvas, 25″ x 33″


Drenthe by DGY, c. 1876. From the Posner Maritime Art Collection, SSHSA Archives.

This painting depicts a single-funneled steamship, with two masts and a clipper bow, cutting through stormy seas under a gray-clouded sky. The unidentified artist signed the painting “DGY.” The Drenthe, a steamer of 2,296 tons, was built at Newcastle, England in 1875.  Her dimensions were 295 x 36 x 26 feet.  According to American Lloyd’s, Ruys and Hoven at Rotterdam, the Netherlands owned Drenthe from 1877 to 1883. The house flag flying from the mainmast looks like that of Ruys and Sons, of Rotterdam, c. 1883

William Ruys started business in 1844.  Over the years the company grew and used various names such as “Rotterdam  Scheepvaart Maatschappij” (Wm. Ruys & Sons),  “Rotterdamsche Lloyd” (Wm. Ruys & Zonen), “Koninklijke Rotterdamsche Lloyd” (Wm. Ruys & Zonen), and “Royal Rotterdam Lloyd,” among others.  In 1961, the Chandris Line bought their flag ship, the Willem Ruys. They renamed it Achille Lauro.  The Palestinian Liberation Organization hijacked this ship in 1985.

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SS Kätie
by Antonio Jacobsen
Oil on canvas


Katie by Antonio Jacobsen. From the Posner Maritime Art Collection, SSHSA Archives.

Alexander Stephen and Sons of Glasgow, Scotland built the steamer Kätie, of 1880 (2790 tons), along with Martha, of 1884 (2107 tons), for the Stettiner Lloyd Line of Germany (1880-1886).  This line took immigrants from Stettin (now Poland) to New York, via Scandinavian ports. When Stettiner Lloyd became insolvent, Stephen and Sons took Kätie back.  Interestingly, Kätie sailed for the Furness Line in 1887; then became the Dunkeld in 1890, but this a different Dunkeld than is the subject of another Jacobsen painting in this collection.

SS Dunkeld, ex Kätie, sank off Lobos Island on March 25, 1895, while carrying a load of coal from Cardiff, England for Buenos Aires and struck a rock in the early morning.  The French Steamer Portena rescued all except the Third Mate and Steward, who were afraid to swim for a lifeboat

This is quite an unusual painting for Jacobsen because he usually painted ships in profile. He has shown her with a barkentine rig and multiple sails.  Kätie appears stopped to pick up a pilot, as Pilot Schooner Number 11 (probably Phantom, of New York) is depicted on the left side of the painting.  The American Flag flies from the foremast, indicating Kätie is en route to New York and the Stettiner Lloyd house flag flies from the main mast.  The house flag has the American flag in the canton area, which is quite unusual.  Jacobsen created this painting in 1885.

Click here to find a full bio of Antonio Jacobsen.

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Questions for Further Thought

  1. What can visual arts teach us about steamships?
  2. What do all these paintings have in common? How do they differ?
  3. Explain how these paintings illustrate the move from sail to steam power. Why use both?

Education Standards

4 ( Grades: K-12 ): Understanding the visual arts in relation to history and cultures

National Core Arts Standards