Steamboat Paintings (Prints)


"Midnight Race on the Mississippi," lithograph of the race between the Danna and Fulton published by Thomas Kelly, 17 Barclay St., N.Y., 18 1/4 x 25 1/4 inches

Thomas Kelly was an Irish immigrant who published this steamboat race scene in imitation of Currier & Ives so this image can go on one of those pages. Have not found a particular date for it yet, most likely 1860's. Can't find any mention of a steamboat named DANNA (so this could very well be a misspelling of the speedy steamer DIANA). There are three steamboats named FULTON from the mid 1800's in Way's Packet Directory. One of them may have been the boat depicted in this work of art.

I bought this framed and received it last week. It needs to be removed from the frame and restored to resolve some tears and other flaws. Apparently the first editions of this work were hand colored and this has to be a later "knock off" by a publisher aiming to provide a more affordable print for the less prosperous collector. A first printing then as now would cost at least twice as much as this one did.


SPREAD EAGLE by Don Langeneckert - original is in the collection of the Missouri Historical Society

available on various sizes on paper or canvas from Fine Art America:

I just received the 9.13 x 14 inch print on archival matte paper - Sure is a painting with "high definition."


Attached detail from a print of the following painting.

The link below will take you to a poster available from the MHS is below

View on the Mississippi River 1857 by Ferdinand Reichardt

Minnesota Historical Society Collections

A placid stretch of the Upper Mississippi near Lake Pepin is the setting for this romantic painting of the "fashionable tour" on the Mississippi by Ferdinand Reichardt (1819-1895) a Danish-born landscape artist especially noted for his paintings of Niagara Falls. The romance of the Mississippi River captured his imagination, presumably when he traveled through Minnesota in the 1850s. In his New York City studio Reichardt painted several canvases of life along the river such as St. Anthony Falls (also painted in 1857 and in the MHS Collections) and View on the Mississippi River. Another, similar rendition of the fashionable tour, executed in 1858, is in the collections of the White House. All are probably based on sketches and material gathered from his visit to the Mississippi Valley, and all are rich in fine detail.


Years ago I ordered a large print of this painting by Jay H. Matternes from National Geographic and have it framed downstairs.

It's endlessly fascinating to look at and frightening to anyone contemplating swimming in the Mississippi where the water is only this clear on the upper river.

Attached scan of the print to which I added National Geographic copyright.

Note the distant steamboat just above the waterline in the upper right half of the painting.

The painting was commissioned for this book:

The Mighty Mississippi. Hardcover
by Bern Keating (Author)
James L. Stanfield (Photographer)

Hardcover: 199 pages
Publisher: National Geographic Society, 1971

Painting by JAY H. MATTERNES Pages 150 - 51

Caption under the painting:

"Armored with hard, diamond-shaped scales, an eight-foot alligator gar glides near the surface of the Mississippi; another chases a young blue catfish.

Largest fish in the river, gars sometimes grow ten feet long.

Scaleless blue catfish, full size at left, may reach a hundred pounds or more.

The broad, flat snout of the paddlefish possibly helps stabilize its body as it sieves with gaping jaw for crustaceans and plankton.

Prowling for food, shovelnose sturgeons rake mud near the bank with sensitive fleshy barbels that help the weak-eyed fish detect snails, crawfish, and insect larvae; they vacuum the morsels through tubelike mouths.

Heavily ridged shells cover alligator snapping turtles.

One lures six-inch green sunfish with wormlike "bait," an extension of the tongue.

Breaking the surface of the river another turtle startles a mallard into flight."


This catfish "taxidermy" is in the "replica" category with accomplished air brushed detailing. The name of the artist who accomplished this was on a special plaque that I had made that used to be in the case with the catfish but that plaque is missing, hope it turns up so I can give the creator of the work proper credit.

Obtained this during the 90's in a store specializing in vintage hunting and fishing items in St. Charles, Missouri on the Missouri River. From the same dealer I also got a huge taxidermy piece of a "gar" that's in an outsized case inside a crate in the garage and hasn't been brought out to be photographed or exhibited yet.


Print of painting "Music for Dreaming" by Tommy Thompson, New Orleans 1985.

Hippolyte Sebron steamboat illustration

This is from a 16 X 20 print of Hippolyte Sebron's painting of steamboats on the New Orleans levee in 1853. The original huge mural-like painting is in the Dean's office at Tulane University in New Orleans. I visited there and saw it with old graduate Ray Samuel who was the biggest dealer in steamboaty stuff I ever ran across. I only bought a few things from him and had to just pine away for the rest. All his best stuff was in his own collection at his home in the Garden District.

Anyone seeking a print of the painting should go through the Tulane University Special Collections

Special Collections
Tulane Libraries, Jones Hall
Tulane University
New Orleans LA 70118
ph: 504-865-5685
fx: 504-865-5761


Recently acquired print from a painting by John Stobart

The architecture of the commercial buildings on the waterfront are typical of river cities and rivertowns like Hannibal, Missouri as it appeared when Sam Clemens was a boy there before the Civil War.

LOUISVILLE by John Stobart

The People's Line Packet "Wild Wagoner" arriving at the Levee in 1868

18 x 29 inches Issued: 1993

Louisville, Kentucky on the Ohio River in 1868 at 2nd Street and the mouth of Beargrass Creek.

The arriving Cincinnati and Louisville packet WILD WAGONER edges towards the Peoples Line wharf boat in mid-morning as people along Water Street go about their daily business.

recent acquisitions

Beautiful vintage lithograph of Ralph DuPae's hometown on L.O.C. site.

La Crosse, Wisconsin. 1873

Digital ID: (digital file from original print)
Library of Congress
Prints and Photographs Division
Washington, D.C. 20540

recent acquisitions

New acquisition: framed John Stobart print.

ST. LOUIS. The "Gateway to the West" in 1878 {Issued: 1978 }

NATCHEZ dennis lyall remarque pilot saturated 40 percen EXP

A print of illustrator Dennis Lyall's painting of the NATCHEZ 1869, probably commissioned for use on first day of issue envelopes for 5 steamboats in a set of 1996 U.S. commemorative stamps designed by Dean Ellis:

The NATCHEZ is not one of the five steamboats on the stamps which were: The Robt. E. Lee 1866, the Sylvan Dell 1872, the Far West 1870, the Rebecca Everingham 1880 and the Bailey Gatzert 1890. (Copies of the stamps are inset in the lower right corner of Lyall's painting).

In the bottom margin is a original hand drawn remarque by Lyall of a steamboat pilot (possibly intended to represent Sam Clemens) at the pilot wheel.


Detail from a print of the painting NEW ORLEANS by ROY CROSS copyrighted in the United Kingdom by Felix Rosentiel's Widow & Sons Limited 1993. The steamboat PACIFIC (1857-1860) predominates in the right two thirds of the painting.



Steamboat prints from the Cities Service Oil Co. 1950's

Attached my two favorites out of four Mississippi steamer paintings that artist Jerome Biederman was commissioned to paint for a mini "portfolio" of prints that was published as a promotional giveaway to customers by the Cities Service Oil Company of New York during the 1950's.

The text on the front of the folder in which the prints were presented reads as follows: "ANOTHER TRIBUTE TO THE PAST from Cities Service and your neighborhood dealer." A publicity "blurb" about the Biederman's transportation themed prints for Cities Service said: "The originals were painted by one of Americas foremost transportation artists, who has vividly captured the romance of a bygone era."

Four of the boats in the portfolio were Mississippi River steamers, others included paintings of East Coast "walking beam" style boats.

The depiction of the MEMPHIS is fanciful which gives it a toy-like appearance with wild spandrels between the smokestacks; a second set of windows below the upper ones on the pilot house and "texas" cabin and curved topped on the "skylight" windows over the main cabin.

The pilot house on the HUDSON was painted yellow which led me to convert that to white in Photoshop.

A graduate of Chicago's American Academy of Art, Biederman created hundreds of transportation themed paintings, primarily of vintage automobiles. An article about the artist can be read in Hemmings Magazine by Mark J. McCourt at this link:


Way's Packet Directory Number 3896

Built at Cincinnati, Ohio in 1852. 319 Tons for the Cincinnati-Memphis trade.
Sank below Madison, Indiana on the Ohio River on February 12, 1852 with loss of considerable cargo.
Off the lists in 1860.

HUDSON (Packet, 1886-1905)

Sternwheel Packet

Way's Packet Directory Number 2678;

Built in 1886, hull at Freedom, Pennsylvania by James Rees & Sons; completed at Pittsburgh to run the Paducah-St. Louis trade and then the St. Louis-Grafton trade.

About 1889, she ran the Pittsburgh-Cincinnati trade. Captain Ellison took stock in Pittsburgh & Cincinnati Packet Line and became the superintendent at Cincinnati.

In the fall of 1898 she went to Memphis. Her last running in the Pittsburgh-Cincinnati trade was spring 1903. That summer she ran Cincinnati-Memphis and often helped out at Cincinnati taking people to Coney Island. She sank at Cincinnati at 7:30 pm on June 25, 1904, she was laid up at the time. She was raised and docked.

Then at Cincinnati on February 5, 1905 at 9:00 pm she was lost in a fire.


With the exception of images credited to public institutions,
everything on this page is from a private collection.
Please contact for permission for commercial use.*