The Breaking Up of the Great Eastern, No. 2

WAG 8341


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.