James E. Buttersworthsigned lower right
Oil on board
8 X 12 in.
Click here for enlarged view.
The painting is typical of Buttersworth's style with great sailing action and beautifully rendered seas and sky. In this view, Buttersworth depicts a pair of cat boats on a beam reach racing at speed in choppy seas with a grey, overcast sky. The view we believe is along the Hudson River with a harbor in the far left background where masts of tall ships at dock rise above the landscape in front. The cat boat in the foreground appears to be flying on its topmast the house flag of the Hudson River Yacht Club. Cat boats like the ones depicted in this painting are traditionally less than 26 feet in length and fitted with a gaff-rigged sail on a single mast set well up in the "eyes" of the boat.
Buttersworth displays his extensive knowledge of boats, rigging, and sailing. This highly realistic composition also demonstrates the artist's sensitivity to the colors and movement of the Atlantic Ocean.
Another similar painting of the same subject by James E. Buttersworth titled Cat Boats with Committee Boat, circa 1860 is on display at the Cahoon Museum of Fine Art, Cotuit, Massachusetts. http://www.cahoonmuseum.org/maritime-artwork.php
James Edward Buttersworth was a ship portraitist who meticulously illustrated America’s Golden Age of Sail, Buttersworth captured a realistic view of sea and sky while incorporating the human element into his work. James Edward Buttersworth (1844-1894) has long been recognized as a premier maritime artist distinguished by his story telling prowess, as well as his meticulous attention to detail with the brush and palette.
He began his career in England studying under his father, Thomas, a respected marine artist. The younger Buttersworth immigrated to the United States in the late 1840s, at the height of the Golden Age of Sail and steam transportation, and became immersed in chronicling the maritime world of New York. In illuminating American maritime history on canvas, Buttersworth became one of the most prolific marine artists of the nineteenth century. His paintings detailed packet ships, ocean steamships, clipper ships, naval frigates, harbor craft and most especially, the world of American yachting.
In the 1850s, Buttersworth contributed numerous paintings and sketches to Currier & Ives depicting famous vessels and marine disasters for their popular lithographs. Like his contemporary “luminist” and Hudson River School artists, Buttersworth excelled in the dramatic renderings of sea and sky, elevating the precisely detailed renderings of ships beyond document to art.