Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859), the Great Eastern was the largest steamship when it was launched in 1858. Originally intended as a passenger liner, she later became a transatlantic cable-laying ship and finally an advertising vehicle for Lewis’s department store in Liverpool before being broken up at New Ferry, Wirral, in 1889-1890.
With her four funnels removed and the bow section cut open, she now appears a magnificent wreck. The blank foreground amplifies the sense of abandonment of the once great vessel, while the distant vessels and a discarded fragment in the sand create balance and depth within the composition.
Presented to the Walker Art Gallery by the Trustees of the Estate of Miss Dorothea Short in 1973, No. 8341