"the Hamburg-Amerika Steamship Lessing Departing Hamburg, Germany on April 24th, 1887"
by Michael Boss
Acrylic on Panel
20" X 30"
From the Collection of Carol Hobbs - WaKeeney, Kansas

Every now and again, a challenging painting comes into my artistic realm. I never dreamed someone would ask if I would paint a Nineteenth Century emigrant ship leaving Hamburg, Germany! Carol (Havenstein) Hobbs, of WaKeeney, Kansas, was that person. As it happens I have a friend Alan Bussie, from Lexington, Kentucky who has more than a passing interest in ocean liners. As they say, he would eventually save my bacon.

The Lessing was built during 1874 by A Stephen and Sons in Glascow, Scotland and was launched in February of that year. She was constructed for the German Adler Line but was soon sold to the Hamburg-Amerika Line in 1875. After several years in the Atlantic emigrant crossings, Lessing was rebuilt in 1882 with two funnels, and to quote Alan, and they ruined her perfect sheer line - now there are bulkheads aft and center, dividing up the ship and giving it a separate "bow, forward well, superstructure, rear well and poop deck". It helped there are four known extant images of the Lessing. One when new, another after the 1882 rebuild and two as the Nerthe after being sold to French company Messageries Maritimes in 1888. With these photographs, Alan was able to help guide me through the changes. Lessing met her end in 1897 at the scrappers in Marseilles, France.

In April of 1887, Carol's family, the Havensteins, came to Hamburg from Prinzenthal, a city in the Prussian province of Posen. The family consisted of William, the father, mother, Wilhemina and four children, Gustave, Hedwig, Richard, and Louise. The family boarded on 24 April for the voyage to New York and a new world. The captain was A. Barends, an old hand with the Hamburg-Amerika Line.

Earlier, I mentioned Alan Bussie who has an online business of selling old and collectible balsa and plastic model kits. If one is inclined, do visit his website. It is a charmer.