Painting, Ocean Monarch

The Ocean Monarch sailed between Boston and Liverpool. On August 24, 1848, carrying 396 passengers, it set sail from Liverpool to the United States. That day, off Great Ormes Head, North Wales, a fire broke out on the lower deck, suspected to be from passengers smoking below deck. Several ships came to its rescue, including the Brazilian steam frigate Alfonso, the packet New World, the yacht Queen of the Ocean, the steamer Prince of Wales, and Cambria. Of the 396 passengers, 218 were rescued and 178 were missing or dead. The ship was completely lost. This was considered one of the major sea disasters of the 19th century.
The painting shows the burning of the Ocean Monarch in rough seas. Several sail and steam ships are coming to the rescue of the passengers. About six small lifeboats are in the water. Only one mast is left, and the bowsprit is in two pieces. The CIGNA collection has another of Samuel Walter's five paintings of the fire, The Queen of the Ocean Going to the Rescue of the Ocean Monarch. The collection also has two prints on the subject: Burning of the Ocean Monarch of Boston by Currier and Ocean Monarch by A. McClure.
Samuel Walters (1811-1882) was a British marine painter. He was the son of English shipwright, seaman, and marine painter, Miles Walters. Walters assisted his father with ship portraits and in the 1840s set up his own studio in Bootle, England. Much of his business consisted of painting portraits of new ships for their English and American owners.
Currently not on view
Object Name
painting, oil
date made
ca 1848
Walters, Samuel
Physical Description
oil on canvas (overall material)
without frame: 24 in x 36 in; 60.96 cm x 91.44 cm
with frame: 34 1/2 in x 46 3/4 in; 87.63 cm x 118.745 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Cigna Maritime Collection
See more items in
Work and Industry: Maritime
Cigna Maritime Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection

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