The Extreme Clipper
ENTERPRISE OF NEW YORK
Arrives in London
After the original oil on board, ca. 1849
JAMES EDWARD BUTTERSWORTH
(British / American) 1817-1894)
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AN OUTSTANDING WORK BY ONE OF AMERICA'S FOREMOST MARINE ARTISTS
This early work from James Edward Buttersworth is
quite unlike his later, more typical depictions of
ocean going vessels struggling in rough weather or of racing yachts
competing for the America's Cup. This carefully crafted and highly
detailed image is very probably his finest work.
The ship is flying the Stars and Stripes as its ensign
and as house flags, the American Union Jack and a pennant that later
became the house flag of the Red Star Line founded in 1871. This,
however, is not a Red Star Line ship as Red Star only ever owned or
chartered steam powered vessels.
The vessel is of a type known as an Extreme Clipper,
the first of which, Rainbow was launched in 1845. These sacrificed
capacity and stability for speed. Others followed from 1848. When used between England and the east coast of America they
became part of a fleet commonly
referred to as "New York Packets" or "Atlantic Packets", usually completing the crossing
in 16 days or less. The design was very quickly made obsolete by the
larger, faster and more profitable "Medium Clipper" introduced from 1854.
Although the tugboat bears the legend "London", this does not
in itself confirm the location as being the Thames. However, the domed
church on the horizon does support the contention as no such building then
existed in the alternative ports of Liverpool, Bristol, New York or
Boston. It can only be St. Paul's Cathedral, London. The multitude of
Thames Wherries, the uniforms and craft of the Thames Watermen and the
style of the waterside architecture all add to this evidence of location.
Buttersworth left for America in 1847. By the
following year new railway connections to North West England meant that it
was very much cheaper and quicker for everyone to sail to America via
Birkenhead, near Liverpool. Thereafter, New York Packets were almost
entirely absent from the Port of London. But being in America at the time,
Buttersworth would not have known this. So although Buttersworth briefly
returned to London in 1851 he could not possibly have been confronted with
the scene as painted.
Whilst this painting's principal subject can
confidently be dated to post 1847, Buttersworth's absence from London
between 1847 and 1851 forces the conclusion that the background and
flanking detail were painted from sketches of the Thames that Buttersworth
took with him to America and that these were then combined with first hand
observation of the new breed of extreme clippers then running from New
York and Boston.
Considering all these facts, the painting can
confidently be dated to within a year of 1849.
The original work is seriously degraded by extensive
craquelure, corroded varnish and white lead discolouration. .
FINE ART CANVAS EDITION - Limited Edition of 100.
18¾ x 26¼ inches (476 x 667 mm)
Sheet: 24 x 30 inches (508 x 762 mm).
The water, dust and abrasion resistant canvas should be put on a stretcher or
laid on backing board before framing. It will not need to be under glass.
Canvas is a natural product that can shrink slightly and unpredictably
after printing. Do not order a stretcher or frame until you have
measured your delivered print.
(3) If you wish and at no extra cost, the canvas print will be
finished with a satin varnish to make it suitable for long term unprotected
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