Maysville ship painting unveiled
A recently finished painting of the ship “Maysville” now hangs in the Kentucky Gateway Museum Center.
The painting features the “Maysville” as it sits along the harbor one early morning before sunrise. Dark clouds can be seen in the background above calm waters.
The painting is 36 inches high by 48 inches wide. It is the largest painting Steve White has ever worked on.
It was completed by White, was commissioned by Louis Browning after it was discovered the ship had existed.
White said during the process of painting the ship, he and Browning discussed several options.
“We discussed having a moonlit night above the ship and talked about maybe putting a flat boat in,” he said. “I researched what kind of wagons would have been used to carry on items, what they looked like. I think the hardest thing for me was to, after Louis and I photographed the ship, the hardest thing was to put it into water and along the shore. After I got the ship form finished, somehow I was able to envision how it would have been in the water. I know there would probably have been large sycamore trees there, so I’ve got the ship tied.”
According to Browning, it was not discovered that a ship called the “Maysville” had existed until 1994, when Jean Calvert received a copy of the Log of Mystic Seaport, which discussed how Mystic had received an 1814 image of a ship called the Maysville as she sat in Brest, France.
“That such a ship had existed stunned us,” Browning said. “The article described the ship, its building, with records of its voyages in and out of what became its home port of Philadelphia as far away as Russia, Europe, the Caribbean, and South America. It detailed the names of crew members, even their race.”
KYGMC Director CJ Hunter said the museum had been unsuccessful in purchasing the photo from Mystic. However,
“Mr. Browning and Steve White felt like we needed to see what the ship looked like on that early morning before she departed Maysville,” he said.
According to Hunter, the ship carried barrels of bourbon, whiskey made from local corn and hogsheads of tobacco.
Browning said there were eight shipyards in Marietta, Ohio, where construction on ocean-going ships centered. Some of this activity occurred at Maysville.
“We can easily imagine that the shipwrights who worked here in Maysville were acquainted with some of those working in Marietta. There is no doubt that each town knew the other was building ships. After all, every Marietta-built ship headed to New Orleans floated down the river past Maysville,” he said.
The painting was unveiled as a part of a much larger event, the celebration of the museum’s charter.
The Maysville-Mason County Library Historical and Scientific Society was chartered on March 1, 1878.
“We’re the oldest chartered museum in the Commonwealth,” he said. “We have two flags brought out today. The 38 star flag is a replica of the flag that was flying out front on March 1, 1878, when the association was formed. The 15-star flag is the flag that was flying over the Maysville when she left the harbor, in 1804, off the Third Street shipyard.”
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