Pansing, Fred (1844-1912) GER->USA (1)

Catégorie : PEINTRES

PansingFVBorn in Bremen, Germany, Pansing became a sailor at age 16. After five years at sea, he settled in Hoboken, New Jersey establishing himself as a marine painter and portraitist in 1865. With excellent draftsmanship he also worked in New York City and Brooklyn as an artist illustrating sheet music and painting names on steamboats.

In the late 1890's, Pansing worked for American Lithography in Jersey city. On the side he created oil paintings which have been celebrated for their "luminous color and finely detailed lines", attributes which were easily translated into this printed medium, typically published as chromolithographs.

He is best known for painting steamships for prestigious ocean lines with regular commissions from Cunard and White Star Lines. They were seen as sailing posters, promotional materials aboard ships and in ticket offices. His paintings were also reproduced to grace postcards and puzzles for transatlantic passengers' souvenirs; historical mementos from a romantic era.

Defender in New York Harbor, ca. 1895


One very rare harbor scene is his painting of Defender in New York Harbor, circa 1895, signed lower right, “Fred Pansing.” The work depicts the yacht Defender which successfully defended the America’s Cup in the year of this work, sailing through busy New York Harbor, approaching the Statue of Liberty. Surrounding Defender are a side-wheeler and a two-masted schooner on the right, and on the left are a steamer (at the distance) and some sailboats. In the left foreground, a gaff-rigged sloop flying an American flag sails past, with a figure in the cockpit waving to Defender. The tip of Defender’s mast comes just to the top of the canvas, giving the appearance that she is dwarfing Lady Liberty, thus visually reinforcing Defender’s stature of being the most famous of all yachts that year. Defender’s crisply painted sails reflect in the rippling surface of the harbor. Her gleaming white hull, rich teak deckhouses, rails and decks help to pop the color in the center of the picture.

More typical of Pansing’s works, however, are his portraits such as Paddlewheel Steamer Puritan and Paddlewheel Steamer Priscilla, each vessel on the Fall River Line connecting New York, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Both works depict a gleaming, white four-decked steamer with many colorful flags and pennants, carrying two black smokestacks emitting smoke.
FredPansingPuritan FredPansingPriscilla

Paddlewheel Steamer Puritan


In Puritan, Pansing created drama in the strong wind blowing back the flags and suspending them mid-air, and in the sky creating drama with an ominous, dark cloud on the right side of the canvas, and an equally menacing-looking band of clouds along the horizon-line on the left-hand side of the work. The rough sea is deep blue on the left-hand side of the work, lit from above by the sun coming through the break in the clouds, and then fades to an almost jet black hue on the left, below the storm cloud. Puritan charges ahead, leaving a white-wash in her wake. Pansing carefully rendered the countless details of the vessel such as the portholes, the lettering on the side of the vessel, the lifeboats, the railings and the carving on the prow.

Puritan  measures 22 x 36 inches is signed lower right, “Fred Pansing.”

Paddlewheel Steamer Priscilla


Pansing presented Steamboat Priscilla against an equally threatening sky, but in this case it is a violet, cloud-laden sky with a very low ceiling, which forms a dark curtain behind the vessel. The break in the clouds toward the top of the canvas reveals blue sky and sheds light down onto the Priscilla and the sea on the left-hand side of the canvas. As in Puritan, the flags stand out in the wind. The details of the fine vessel, considered the utmost in luxury in her day, and the passengers on deck, seem infinite and almost photorealistic.

Priscilla measures 22 x 37 inches and is signed lower right, “Fred Pansing.”


Pansing was so taken with Priscilla , as many others, that in addition to this painting of her, he executed lithographs depicting this vessel.