Posts Tagged ‘Titanic Survivors in Lifeboat’

An artist on the Carpathia paints Titanic survivors

April 9, 2018

By 1912, Colin Campbell Cooper had made a name for himself as an Impressionist painter—one who found inspiration in the skyscrapers and modern cityscape of New York, where he lived since 1904.

But two paintings he was moved to create after one of the most famous disasters of the 20th century might be his most personal.

On April 11, Cooper and his wife boarded the steamship Carpathia in New York, bound for Croatia.

The voyage was unremarkable, until midnight on April 15. That’s when a wireless operator reported getting a distress call from the Titanic, which had hit an iceberg 70 miles away.

The Carpathia turned around and raced toward the Titanic in hopes of rescuing passengers. Finally at 4 a.m., two boatloads of women and children were picked up from the Atlantic, Cooper’s wife later detailed in a letter.

Like others on the Carpathia, “[Cooper] and his wife gave up their cabin to the exhausted, emotionally numb passengers,” wrote Stephanie Sammartino McPherson in her book, Iceberg, Right Ahead! The Tragedy of the Titanic.

“But Cooper wanted to do something more. The beauty and tragedy of the rescue scene haunted him.”

After the Carpathia delivered weary Titanic survivors to Chelsea Piers and the ship continued to the Mediterranean, “Cooper completed two paintings,” McPherson wrote.

“One shows the Carpathia cruising past icebergs against an early morning sky. The other shows five small lifeboats approaching the ship, perfectly poised in the middle of the picture between choppy blue water and a pale pink sky.”

The second painting is one of the few first-hand accounts of what it was like to be greeted by the survivors who rowed into the frigid night and watched their unsinkable ocean liner descend into the Atlantic.

Cooper also apparently painted the icebergs he saw in the ocean—cold white and dark blue against a pinkish twilight.

[Last photo: Encyclopedia Titanica]