1830
American
oil on wood panel
United States
Unframed: 11 × 15 in. (27.94 × 38.1 cm)
Framed: 16 1/2 × 20 5/8 × 2 1/4 in. (41.91 × 52.39 × 5.72 cm)
88.161
Not on view

Salmon’s depiction of a steam-powered tourist boat navigating the Dismal Swamp Canal captures the Jacksonian era’s confidence in technology and commerce. One of the great engineering feats of its day, the twenty-two-mile channel connected the intercoastal waterways of Virginia and North Carolina.

The Boston-based painter did not travel south to capture the scene in person, but relied on an on-site sketch by Norfolk artist Thomas Williamson. The image, soon marketed as a print, became an icon of technological progress. It appeared in miniature form on paper currency of several states, often balanced with depictions of steam locomotives or factories.

signed lower right: "R. S."
inscribed on verso: "No. 650/ Painted by R. Salmon/ 1830"
Gift of Eugene B. Sydnor, Jr.
O’Leary, Elizabeth L., Sylvia Yount, Susan Jensen Rawles, and David Park Curry. American Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Charlottesville: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts with the University of Virginia Press, 2010. (No. 27, p. 79-82).

Exhibition banner for "Our Story," Museum of the Albemarle, Elizabeth City, NC, April 2006-April 2007.

William M.S. Rasmussen and Robert S. Tilton, Old Virginia The Pursuit of a Pastoral Ideal (Richmond: Virginia Historical Society in asso. with Howell Press, 2003) pp. 88-89, color pl. 3.33, p. 89.

James C. Kelly and William M.S. Rasmussen, The Virginia Landscape A Cultural History exhibition catalogue (Charlottesville, VA: Howell Press, in association with Virginia Historical Society, 2000) p. 83, color pl. 3.47.

David Park Curry, “What’s in a Frame,” in Eli Wilner, ed., The Gilded Edge in America (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2000) p. 147.

Permanent exhibit on “the archaeology and cultural environment of the Northwest Vicinity, Chesapeake City, Virginia, on the edge of the Dismal Swamp,” Naval Services General Administration, produced by R. Christopher Goodwin & Associates, Inc., 1997.

K.M. Kostyal, Art of the State of Virginia The Spirit of America (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1999) p. 53, color ill.
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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