Le Paquebot Portugal, (Hippo) Auguste Vimar, 1903
Le Paquebot Portugal (S.S. Portugal) was originally built in 1886 for the Brazil and River Plate Line of the Messageries Maritimes Company. She was chartered or purchased by the Russians for use as a hospital ship in the Black Sea during the first world war. On March 30 1916 she was sunk by a torpedo from the German U-boat U-33.
This 1903 menu image of a hippo server delivering a bowl was created by the French illustrator and watercolor artist Auguste Vimar. Born in Marseille, France, in 1851, he became an illustrator for children’s books and also contributed some of his wonderful animal images to Le Figaro Illustré. He died in 1916. The hippo server and the crocodile bringing the drinks were part of Vimar’s contribution to the fashion at that time for fantastical art images – later this style of artwork became known as magical realism.
Courtesy Private Collection.