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Portrait in oils of Robert Fulton (1765-1815), US marine engineer. Fulton made his first money as a painter of miniature portraits, in 1787 moving to England to study under Benjamin West. His thoughts then turned to engineering, designing a cradle device for lifting canal boats over slopes to replace lock systems. In 1791 he moved to France, designing the torpedo carrying submarine Nautilus and testing it successfully in the Seine. His obsession with boats led to his first steam- powered paddle-wheel driven vessel. Back in America by 1806 he developed the idea, resulting in the first commercial paddle steamer services using the Clermont on the Hudson River in 1807.
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