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The Posner Maritime Art Collection
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USS Nicholson
by A. F. Bishop (American 1855 - after 1927)
Oil on canvas, 27” x 36”

Albert F. Bishop was an artist for Scientific American magazine.  He generally signed paintings with a monogram, an "A" and "F" intertwined with an anchor.  He signed this painting “A. F. Bishop.”  Bishop was born in Connecticut in 1855 and is believed to have been active until at least 1927.   He is well known for his paintings of ocean liners as lithographs on tin.  These colorful lithographs were mounted on the walls of steamship agencies during the 19 teens and 1920s.

This painting depicts the American WWI destroyers USS Nicholson (DD-52) and USS Fanning (DD-37) rescuing German submariners of U-58.  Both were on Eastern Atlantic Convoy duty out of Queenstown, Ireland.  This painting depicts when they rescued the crew of the German submarine U-58 on the afternoon of 17 November 1917.  The two destroyers had different hull designs and this is how the two can be distinguished in the painting.  SSHSA member John Arnold, MD, contributed this explanation:

On November 17, 1917 the destroyers USS Nicholson and USS Fanning engaged and forced to the surface the German submarine U-58.  The U-58 was attempting to attack a British merchantman in a convoy the two destroyers were escorting in the Western Approaches in the North Atlantic.  After surfacing and following an exchange of gunfire the U-boat commander surrendered, and then scuttled the submarine by flooding its ballast tanks.  The German crew was rescued by the two American destroyers.  This was one of the few, if not the only time, US warships had a confirmed kill of a U boat in World War I.  Undoubtedly this rescue is what inspired the painting.  A famous poster, entitled “They Kept the Sea Lanes Open” showing a US destroyer sweeping by a surfaced and surrendering U boat was also inspired by this action.”

USS Nicholson (DD-52) was launched in August 1914 and commissioned in April of 1915.  She was built by William Cramp and Sons in Philadelphia, USA. Upon the entrance of the US into World War I in 1917, she was assigned to convoy escort duties in the Irish Sea. During most of 1918 she was assigned to escort duties off the coast of France. USS Nicholson was scrapped in 1936.

USS Fanning (DD-37) was a Paulding-class destroyer, built in 1910. After her service in WWI, she was transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard (CG-11) and in 1934 sold by the US Navy for scrapping.

A related painting by Bishop can be seen here.

References

Arnold, John.  Email, 17 November 2012.

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, USN.  Volumes II (1963, C-F) and V (1970, N-Q).





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