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James E. Buttersworth
Anglo-American (1817-1894)

PURITAN Races Towards The Narrows Off Brooklyn
American Yachts Off New York

A sloop with a plum bow, strongly believed to be famous PURITAN fresh off her successful America’s Cup defense in 1885, races with two schooners off the coast of Brooklyn and Staten Island in New York’s Lower Bay. A full rigged merchant sailing ship heads out under tow from a pilot steam tug, and several other sails fill “The Narrows”, the watery gap between the headlands on the approach to Upper New York Bay and the seaport of Manhattan. James E. Buttersworth earned his reputation as the premier artist of 19th Century American yachting, and while he painted through the Northeast, this is one of his favored locations.

The water of New York Bay is animated with a stiff breeze-driven chop, harmonious to the late afternoon setting sun, while seabirds stay just above the surface. While the light is still strong, the racers are headed to their home berths. PURITAN, owned and raced by John Malcom Forbes, was built in the New York Yard of George Lawley & Son in 1885. She triumphed in the defense of the America’s Cup in 1885 against the English challenge of Sir Richard Sutton and his Cutter GENESTA. PURITAN, with her compromise cutter hull / sloop rig, was one of th every first of her style built in America. She’d be the primary influence for MAYFLOWER which would win the Cup Defense the following year.

The New York headlands appear just distant enough to show little but their green foliage, and the sky varies to a sunny brilliance toward heavy clouds. The white hulled yacht was one of the very first so styled, after having her hull painted black for her Cup match. Soon, all others would follow suit.

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Montague Dawson
British (1895-1973)


A special portrait, the American clipper FOREST QUEEN cresting a mid-Atlantic Ocean swell makes a remarkable painting by the well-known 20th Century marine artist, Montague Dawson. The vertical portrayal does exactly what the artist chose, it illustrates the power of the sea and the strength of the ships and men that sailed as a career. Bright and bold colors make the sea, sky and ship come alive in frozen action on the canvas.

FOREST QUEEN was built by Thomas Jefferson Southard in Richmond, Maine in 1849, assisted by builder Alexander Stanwood. At 886 Tons, 158'5"L x 35'B x 17'6"D, she was one of Maine’s earliest true clippers. From his first vessels launched in the 1830s, the four Southard shipyards built between 75 and 100 ships up through the 1890s. Southard himself would become the principle founder of Richmond, owning numerous businesses, becoming postmaster, and then serving as a representative and senator to the Maine Legislature. He built the clipper for owner Rufus K. Page, whose namesake clipper built by Southard later became important to Juneau, Alaska, where a street today carries his name. Sailing for years, the FOREST QUEEN was involved in cross-Atlantic business out of New York for more than a decade, and kept away from service in the California Trade. Dawson garnered inspiration for this excellent work from those who knew the ship firsthand.

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Montague Dawson
British (1895-1973)

Nearing Home, The HELICON

Bright and magnificent, the Ship HELICON slices on a quick reach in this maritime merchant ship portrait with its remarkable realism in his signature loose stroke. The sailing ship carries a proper spread of canvas for the existing wind, and Montague Dawson portrays numerous sailors active on her deck and in the rigging. Her white hull glistens, and shows some of the inevitable rust of a hard-working steel-and-iron hull ship. The ocean is alive with movement beneath the ship.

HELICON was built by Charles Connell & Co. of Glasgow to order for German owners Bernard Wencke & Son in 1887. She measured 230'6" Length with a 38'4" Beam, and weighed in at 1613 net tons. Connell & Co. had launched a near-identical sister ship to HELICON the year prior, the historic vessel BALCLUTHA, which is now a famous museum ship based in San Francisco.

After Wencke purchased the British STAR OF THE SEA in 1884, they renamed that ship HELICON. Loaded with 2000 tons of railroad tracks, the ship departed Hull on Feb. 2, 1886, bound for Sydney. She was never seen again. In memory, the Wencke firm named their newest ship HELICON, and it served the company on voyages to Australia, Chile and Africa for years, selling to Spanish interests in 1920. The ship served nine more years as VIUDA LLUSA, until broken up in 1929. Dawson may have known this ship early as an artist, and revisited the subject later in his career to produce this painting.

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Montague Dawson
British (1895-1973)

Ship Driving Onto the Aucklands

Rising to the desperate challenge, the crew on a ship in peril off a New Zealand coastline works to keep the sailing ship on course against massive storm-driven ocean swells. The rigging has let go in places, and a group of sailors climb the ratline up the main mast with the intent to hold together the primary rig to keep the ship off the headland. Dawson masterfully captures the dramatic danger. His innate skill at portraying high seas action combined in this instance with white-capped swells, one breaking on the ship’s bow, and a wet, wind-blown atmosphere, presents an artwork that is soft in tonal variation yet universally striking.

Starting in the 1840s, Britains were encouraged to emigrate to New Zealand, and many of those who served in the military forces took the opportunity to start fresh combined with the cheaper passage rates and available land. The port of Auckland was the principle harbor of the northern island. The ocean of the “Roaring Forties” are notorious for some of the strongest westwardly winds on the planet, very useful but precarious in their power over vast expanses of ocean without land, and sudden, drastic directional shifts.

Work by the artist continues to be in great demand. Dawson’s art would often hold specific identities, while others still had little to no clue as to the actual ship portrayed in the paintings, such as this example. We may confidently assume the artist has captured a specific story for this representation. First and foremost, he said that he painted for enjoyment, to live “in that moment of time” which he so expertly portrays on canvas.

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Henry Scott
British (1911-2005)

Stunsails Wide

A bright sky serves as a background to fast-moving merchant sailing ship on a deep-toned rolling ocean in this oil painting by maritime enthusiast and artist Henry Scott. The medium clipper, tall at five courses of sail up her masts, employs stuns’ls at the extreme lengths of her yards, using the extra canvas to push ahead of her competitor on the horizon.

Scott, an artistic fixture amongst the wharfs of Liverpool, was well familiar with some of the last Clipper Ships sailing. His professional association with the Master Mariners of Liverpool kept him recording the great ships of his days and the historic vessels and stories personally recounted to him by the men who lived those moments. The tea trade and racing to be the first ship to market were some of the most prominent stories told, but far from the only ones. Epic storms, fast passages and chance encounters over the world’s oceans all make appearances in his artworks. Crew members manning the forward rail would have some interesting tales to tell.

Illuminating the canvas work of Scott’s textured brush strokes, which in this case are intentionally capturing the direction of the natural elements. One of several artists to follow in the wake of Marine Master Montague Dawson, Scott was also represented by Frost & Reed Galleries. In this case, Scott is careful to show neither the ship’s carved figurehead or nameboard to concrete his subject ship’s identity. Scott chose her instead to be representative of a great many of the last “Wooden Walls” of the world’s merchant sailing ships.

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John Stobart
Anglo-American (1929-)

Ship N.B. PALMER off the Golden Gate
San Francisco

A stalwart American Clipper Ship, N.B. PALMER launched in 1851 out of Jacob Westervelt’s New York yard. Named after the renown Stonington, Connecticut sea captain and ship designer Nathaniel Brown Palmer, whose exploits include becoming a ship’s captain at 21, and soon after being the first American captain to discover the Antarctic Peninsula. The namesake clipper ship, owned by A.A. Lowe & Brother, sailed for the company for years in the China Trade. The Lowe’s were very successful with their Chinese business dealings, and owned several of earliest American clippers built.

The artist John Stobart is known for being an exacting historian as well as a leading marine artist. Well proportioned with sleek lines, the ship sails over an excellent portrayal of the Pacific Ocean and vast bright sky. Distant ships near the California headland are in view. His precise details reveal more about the 202' large clipper; her Merchant Code flags are up the hoist above the American ensign, and she slices a speedy wake as she cuts across the open water. Stobart painted a superior blend of sunlight and shadows on the sails. In 1858, she set a record of 82 days from Shanghai to New York.

“Captain Nat” as he was informally known, was directly involved in the design of the first American Clipper. One story reports he carved the wood hull model of Low’s Clipper HOUQUA while sailing home from China as captain of the ship PAUL JONES in 1843. The Low’s showed their respect by hiring him as their marine advisor, and later by naming this remarkable vessel after him while he was an active ship owner himself. Stobart honors their shared history with this top-quality artwork.

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