The Atlantic Cable Projectors (1895) returns to the New York State Museum

Daniel Huntington (1816–1906) The Atlantic Cable Projectors, 1895

Daniel Huntington (1816–1906)
The Atlantic Cable Projectors, 1895
Oil on canvas

The State Museum is happy to welcome back The Atlantic Cable Projectors (1895) by New York artist Daniel Huntington (1816–1906). The life-size painting recently returned to the Museum from the Williamstown Art Conservation Center in Williamstown, MA, where it spent almost two years undergoing cleaning and repair.

In 2020, the painting was on loan to the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC, where it was featured in the exhibition, Alexander von Humboldt and the United States: Art, Nature, and Culture. 

The work, which measures nearly 7 feet by 9 feet, is now on view in New York Hall. Notably, its ornate Tiffany & Company frame incorporates a segment of the Atlantic Cable itself.

About the Artwork

The Atlantic Cable Projectors depicts the “Cable Cabinet,” the investors who funded the first transatlantic telegraph cable in the 1850s. In a process beset with challenges, the cable was laid, by steamboat, in sections on the ocean floor between the southwest coast of Ireland to Newfoundland.

The first successful transatlantic telegraph conducted by the cable was received in August 1858, revolutionizing long-distance communication. 

The investors, all prominent New Yorkers, were assembled by financier Cyrus West Field (standing in right foreground). A short length of the cable is visible on the table, above the globe. The cable consisted of several strands of copper wire twisted together, wrapped in a natural latex from the gutta-percha tree, then covered in tarred hemp and wrapped with iron wire.

Pictured from left to right: Peter Cooper, David Dudley Field, Chandler White, Marshall O. Roberts, Samuel F. B. Morse, Daniel Huntington, Moses Taylor, Cyrus W. Field, and Wilson G. Hunt. Huntington, who was not part of the “Cable Cabinet,” took the liberty of painting himself into the scene.