SS Humboldt
Lithograph, 16” x 33”
by Louis Honore’ Fre’de’ric Gamain

SS Humboldt was a wooden side-wheeler built in 1850 for the New York and Havre Steam Navigation Company.  She was 2,350 tons, and began service in 1851.  She and her running mate, the SS Franklin, replaced the steamers Washington and Hermann.  The Washington was the first US Mail steamer in the Atlantic, but is also said to have been one of the ugliest ships.  SS Humboldt was wrecked in December 1853 off Halifax.  

SS Humboldt is pictured on her way to France, flying the French courtesy flag on the foremast. Additionally, she is flying the American Union Jack at the bow, a name flag at the mainmast, a US Mail flag from her mizzenmast, and the US Ensign from her stern.  She is likely pictured off Le Havre, with a French pilot cutter approaching the stern.

Louis Honore Frederic Gamain was born on April 22, 1803 in Le Crotoy, France, on the estuary of the river Somme.  He seems to have worked as a ship portraitist, and was a pupil of Theodore Gudin, France’s leading painter of sea battles.  Gamain exhibited at Solon, Paris from 1833 to 1844.  Additional paintings are in the Augustin-Normand Collection at Marseilles, France.   Gamain died in Le Havre, France on 1st March, 1871.


Dorothy Brewington, Dictionary of Marine Artists, 1982.

Frank Staff, The Transatlantic Mail, 1956.

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