The clipper ship Ocean Telegraph was so fast and so pretty she was called one of the most perfect ships ever built. She launched on March 29, 1854, from the Medford, Mass., shipyard of James O. Curtis. Naval architect Samuel Hartt Pook designed the Ocean Telegraph, one of many fast clipper ships to his credit.
“No expense was spared to make her one of the most perfect and beautiful ships ever built,” wrote one admirer. “The bow raked boldly forward, flaring gracefully, and was ornamented with a beautiful carved female figure with forks of lightning playing around.”
From 1854 to 1863 she sailed between New York and San Francisco. In 1859-60 she raced from New York to San Francisco against the Great Republic, winning by making the voyage in 109 days. (That was fast for the era.)
She was sold to a London firm in 1864 and renamed the Light Brigade. For 10 years she carried immigrants, cargo and soldiers to destinations in the British Commonwealth. By 1864, she was condemned to Gibralter and converted to a coal hulk. The last known report of her was in 1891.
The painting is by James Buttersworth, an English artist renowned for his maritime paintings.