Ordered for the American Line of New York, St. Paul was one of a handsome pair of steamers - the other being St. Louis - ordered for her owners' prime North Atlantic passenger route to Europe. Laid down alongside each other in William Cramp's yards at Philadelphia, the two sisters were identical - registered at 11,629 tons gross and measuring 554 feet in length with a 63 foot beam. Powered by twin screws from 20,000ihp. engines, they were designed to cruise at 19 knots but could make 21 or 22 knots at maximum speed. St. Paul had slightly more First class accommodation and could carry 350 First, 220 Second and 800 steerage passengers in total.
Launched in April 1895, six months after St. Louis, St. Paul entered service in October 1895 with her maiden voyage to Southampton. After a lengthy and successful career, including transport duties in both the Spanish- American (1898) and Great Wars, she was broken up in Germany in 1923.
Jacobsen painted this liner on several occasions and two oils are known from 1908.