At the date of this painting, Charles Dixon was accompanying Sir Thomas Lipton to America who was challenging the Americans for the America's Cup. The race was sailed originally around the Isle of Wight after the British cutter "Lavernock" had lost dramatically to a race against the American schooner "America". In a bid to recoup some of their costs the Americans challenged the British to a round the island race for a 100 guinea cup. This race was lost again and the mantle was taken up by a new challenger, Sir Thomas Lipton who was determined to win victory for the British. The race preoccupied the tea plantation magnate and the rest of Edwardian society for many years to come. In 1899 Lipton set off in his luxury steam yacht "Erin" pulling the green hulled "Shamrock" to New York. The 26 year old DIxon was employed to record on the spot scenes of the race. Unfortunately this race ended in defeat by the American "Defender" in 3 straight races. Lipton returned another four times, each time unsuccessful, and each time accompanied by Dixon. Lipton was never able to win the "Americas" cup for the British but he cemented his reputation as a great contributor to British sailing. Dixon must have taken the opportunity, whilst in New York to paint this bustling river scene. The painting shows his skill at depciting all types of sea borne vessels and displays the delicacy and finesse with which he applied to his watercolour paintings.
The origins of the White Star Line (of sailing packets) date back to 1845 but, in 1869, the company took a momentous decision, namely to enter the lucrative North Atlantic passenger trade and to do so with a quartet of luxurious new steamers. Their first vessel was named Oceanic and, by the time she was finally retired in 1896, the decision to replace her had already been taken.
As usual with the White Star ships, the contract to build the second Oceanic went to Harland & Wolff at Belfast where the new flagship was laid down in 1898. Launched on 14th January 1899, she was completed that August and cost a staggering £750,000. Registered at 17,274 tons gross (6,996 net) and measuring 705 feet in length with a 68 foot beam, she had accommodation for 410 first and 300 second class passengers and splendid public rooms as befitted White Star's reputation for luxury over speed. Nevertheless, she could still make 19½ knots at full steam and, although not a record-breaker, proved a worthy addition to the company's fleet.
Leaving her builders' yard on 26th August (1899), she was thrown open to the Press when she arrived at Liverpool and sailed on her maiden voyage, bound for New York, on 6th September. After eight years during which, despite a few minor mishaps, she rendered her owners excellent service, her home port changed to Southampton (in 1907) and remained thus until the summer of 1914. Almost as soon as War was declared on 4th August, Oceanic was commissioned as an Armed Merchant Cruiser and was posted to the 10th Cruiser Squadron to help maintain the 'Northern Patrol'. Sadly, before ever she had "fired a shot in anger", she ran aground off Foula Island, in the Shetlands, on 8th September and was eventually pronounced a total loss despite valiant attempts to save her over several weeks. In March 1924, at which time most of her still remained intact, she was gradually cut down to water level for salvage, and the last remnants of her hull were finally removed in the late 1970s.