onlinesteamboatmuseum

Steamboat Paintings
This page: Robert Rucker, Jack Woodson, Ralph Law, James L. Kendrick III


Robert Rucker

ruckers ghostly steamboat

Model for ghostly Steamboat Ouachita illustration, below.

ruckers ghostly steamboat

I just received a large print of Robert Rucker's "Ghostly Steamboat" . . . attached oval vignette version showcasing the boat and a photo that Jim Hale found on the Murphy site of the "Little Ouachita" after she was abandoned to the elements above Mobile around 1909 with her stacks leaning sadly from neglect.

Photo Courtesy of Murphy Library at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse Steamboat Collection Photographs.

From Jim Hale's message:

THE BOAT IS THE "LITTLE OUACHITA" BUILT AT HOWARD'S IN 1899 TO RUN ON THE UPPER OUACHITA IN LOUISIANA TO BRING COTTON DOWN TO MONROE TOO BE THEN SHIPPED ON THE "AMERICA" TO NEW ORLEANS. CAPTAIN COOLEY HAD BUILT THE "AMERICA" IN 1898 AND THEN HAD THE "LITTLE OUACHITA" BUILT THE NEXT YEAR. HE SOLD THE "LITTLE OUACHITA" IN 1906 TO THE ALABAMA RIVER PACKET CO.

THE PILOT HOUSE WAS RAISED AND THE NARROW TEXAS BUILT IN FRONT OF AND BEHIND IT AFTER IT GOT TO MOBILE. THE "LITTLE OUACHITA" WAS LAID UP IN 1909 OR SO ABOVE MOBILE WHERE THE PICTURE THE MURPHY LIBRARY WAS TAKEN. THE BOAT LOOKED A LOT BETTER BEFORE THE TEXAS WAS ADDED.

THIS PAINTING OF HER BY RUCKER, HAS TO BE THE MOST GHOSTLY STEAMBOAT PAINTING EVER. MAYBE SHE STILL HAUNTS THE BAYOUS ABOVE MOBILE EVEN TO THIS DAY.

rucker steamboat

Robert Rucker who painted the LITTLE OUACHITA bayou picture also painted this charming winter scene for sale. gilleysgallery.com

"Call Gilley's at 225 922-9225 for a price quote."

Rucker's story is touching, he contracted polio as a teenager but was able to thrive as an artist.

Robert Rucker
1932 - 2001

Robert Rucker was a native of New Orleans, and he opened his own gallery in the French Quarter at the age of sixteen. Immediately, Rucker found himself surrounded by fine artists of the New Orleans area, like Knute Heldner and Clarence Millet, two of his earliest influences. At the age of seventeen, he developed polio, an event that led him to art.

Because of his illness, the Louisiana Department of Education funded his schooling at the John McCrady School of Fine Arts in New Orleans. Rucker studied under McCrady for the next five years, developing a style that would later become synonymous with New Orleans and the surrounding countryside of the Mississippi Delta.

Rucker's most famous subject is perhaps the steamboat. His love of them came from his family, having two grandfathers who were steamboat captains. He produced many variations on the theme during his career. He is also well known for various bayou scenes and the south Louisiana countryside, themes that he eventually began to render in an impressionistic style and often with pastel tones during the late 1970's and early 1980's.

Rucker held exhibits in Baton Rouge and New Orleans as well as Chicago, San Francisco, St. Louis and Cleveland. In addition to being an art teacher at his own gallery, he was a textile designer, an art teacher for the City of New Orleans and a medical artist for Tulane Medical School. Robert Rucker died of a heart attack in 2001.

OUACHITATowingCottonBargesTombigbeeRiverAlabamaREDUCEDforNORItakeTWO

The steamboat pushing barges is the same one that Robert Rucker painted a "haunted" sternwheeler of and we paired up with a photo from the La Crosse collection.

I scanned this from a postcard in my collection that was dated 25 December 1906 on the front, no post mark so it must've been enclosed in an envelope when it was sent.

Information on verso:

Raphael Tuck & Sons' postcard Series No. 23709 "In the Land of Cotton." ART PUBLISHERS TO THEIR MAJESTIES THE KING AND QUEEN.

Jim Hale's notes on the boat on the postcard from Illustrations 11:

RobertRuckerQUEENCITYatNewOrleans35percent

Attached scan of a print of an impressionistic Robert Rucker New Orleans riverscape with the QUEEN CITY and other steamboats.

The smoke from the stacks and the French Market possess a watercolor translucence to them while the steamboats have a more opaque appearance and the St. Louis Cathedral in has a pastel quality to it.

RuckerDanWiley33percentEXPORT

Robert Rucker Steamboat DAN WILEY in Bayou

Haven't found an actual steamboat named DAN WILEY yet . . . maybe Rucker named it after a friend of his. This looks like the boat is traversing a bayou. One of Rucker's most charming paintings. The color enhancement from what was a predominantly warm tone is a result of a Photoshop protocol.

RuckerCooleyAMERICA25percent

Robert Rucker's painting of Captain Cooley's AMERICA.





Jack Woodson

steamboat illustration


Jack Woodson's atmospheric ROB'T E. LEE on some foggy mornin' Down South with a fisherman's little riverside cabin in the foreground. From the warm color scheme on the cabin and it looks like the risin' sun will soon burn off the fog.

WoodsonWhippoorwill1960_SmallBrightFile.jpg

Jack Woodson's WHIPPOORWILL.

Woodson evidently painted this as a piece of "calendar art" which could also be sold as a print in a standard 11 X 14 inch picture frame.

Woodson was primarily a nautical artist apparently who specialized in sailing ships at sea rather than riverboats. John Stobart's sea-going ship paintings also outnumber the ones he has done of steamboats on the Inland Waterways.

STEAMBOAT BILL

First published in 1910

by F.A. Mills Music Publisher

122 West 36th Street, New York City

Lyrics by Ken Shields

Music by Bert & Frank Leighton

As sung by Arthur Collins
On the 78 rpm Victor recording made in 1911
Number 16867-A
youtube.com

Sheet music specified that it was to be played in "Allegro moderato"

L Y R I C S:
Down the Mississippi steamed the WHIPPOORWILL
Commanded by the pilot, Mr. Steamboat Bill.
The owners gave him orders on the strict Q.T.*
To try and beat the record of the ROBERT E. LEE

"Just speed up your fire, let the old smoke roll,
Burn up all your cargo, if you run out of coal.
If we don't beat that record," Billy told the mate,
"Then the MAIDEN CARE'll beat us to the Golden Gate."

Oh Steamboat Bill, steaming down the Mississippi.
Steamboat Bill, a mighty man was he.
Oh Steamboat Bill, steaming down the Mississippi.
Gonna beat the record of the ROBERT E. LEE.
Up then stepped a gambling man from Louisville,
Who tried to get a bet against the WHIPPOORWILL
Billy flashed a roll that surely was a bear,
The boiler it exploded threw them up in the air.

The gambler said to Billy as they left the wreck,
"I don't know where we're going, but we're neck-and-neck!"
Said Bill to the gambler, "Tell you what I'll do.
I'll bet another thousand, I'll go higher than you!"

Oh Steamboat Bill, he tore up the Mississippi
Steamboat Bill, the pilot made him swear
Oh Steamboat Bill, he tore up the Mississippi
Explosion of the boiler got him up in the air


The river's all in mourning now for Steamboat Bill
No more you'll hear the puffing of the WHIPPOORWILL
There's crepe on every steamboat that plows the stream,
From Memphis right to Natchez, down to New Orleans
The wife of Mister William was at home in bed,
When she got the telegram that Steamboat's dead.
Said she to the children, "Blessed honey lambs,
The next Papa that you'll have will be a railroad man!"

Oh, Steamboat Bill, missing on the Mississippi
Oh, Steamboat Bill is with an angel band
Oh Steamboat Bill missing on the Mississippi
He's a pilot on a ferry in that Promised Land





Ralph Law

steamboat illustration
Latest acquisition. Original Ralph Law painting of the QUINCY which often frequented Hannibal, Missouri. A much photographed boat, I must have more photos and postcards of the QUINCY than any other. Width of painting seen here about 18 3/4 inches.

Some history gathered from Riverboat Dave's site:

The QUINCY was launched 1896 at the Howard Yard for the Diamond Jo Line Dimensions 264.7' X 42' X 6.8' Ran St. Louis to St. Paul, Upper Mississippi and Ohio Rivers 1906, July, sank and raised at Trempealeau Mountain, Wisconsin. 1917 ran St. Louis - New Orleans

1918-19, remodeled extensively and renamed the "J.S." DELUXE after Capt. John Streckfus. Some of her original equipment came from the GEM CITY.

painting detail

Here's a detail of the Law painting which may be worth including. Hairs from his brushes stuck to the illustration board here and there. I saw Law's painting of the SPRAGUE in Nauvoo many years ago but it was 10 time what I paid for the QUINCY. Perhaps I should have made the shop keepers an offer but didn't.

amazon.com

U.S. Historical Society
Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer on the Mississippi River
By Jack Woodson Fine Art Print Original - Mark Twain
by U.S. Historical Society
Price:$49.99
Sale:$29.99
You Save:$20.00 (40%)
in Stock.
Ships from and sold by FAB FINDS 4 YOU.





James L. Kendrick III

steamboat illustration

Attached is a print of another painting by Louisiana artist "James L. Kendrick III." What a handle! He does plantation homes and N'awlins scenes primarily and some steamboats as well.

The cotton packed AMERICA in the foreground closely follows a vintage photo of the boat but the CITY OF MEMPHIS on the left bears a strong family resemblance to a painting by John Stobart of the J.M. WHITE (a detail of which is on the cover of Way's Directory). The swinging stages are lined up the same way in both paintings although there are differences in various other details if you compare them.

Natchez VI James L Kendrick III EXP for Nori

The NATCHEZ VI painted by James L. Kendrick III (whose painting of Cap'n Cooley's cotton packet AMERICA is a stand out in our illustration gallery, seen above).

KendrickIIIRaceNatchezLeeForNORI

James L. Kendrick III's RACE OF THE NATCHEZ & THE ROB'T E. LEE. Believe this was off an online catalogue but it seems to be out of print now.





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

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