West Sea Company

1. Fine Art & Prints

Prices in U.S. Dollars are in GREEN

 



1.74 HISTORIC PAINTING. Rare, original oil on canvas rendering of the entrance to San Diego Bay in the late 1800’s by listed artist H. Slade as signed lower right, “A. H. Slade 1894.” This handsome composition was painted from real life on the easel of the artist at the shore of the Silver Strand, Coronado near the famous Hotel Del Coronado. It depicts the busy channel traffic into and out of San Diego Bay. The vessels are both steam and sail, indicative of craft during that unique, brief transitional time in maritime history. The artist has effectively captured the serenity of the rolling waves curling onto the sands with the ubiquitous yellow kelp washed up on the beach – a sight confirmed by any San Diegan beachgoer to this day! Charmingly, the landmark Point Loma Lighthouse (sometime referred to then as the “Old Spanish Light”) California’s first lighthouse, erected in 1855, is depicted atop the distinctive Point Loma peninsula. This painting measures 18 by 36 inches sight and is housed in a lovely period ornate gilt frame measuring 24 by 42 inches. It has been professionally cleaned and relined with minimal inpainting. It presents very well with bright colors and sharp detail. Included is a later engraved brass identification plaque not attached to the frame. Price Request Special PackagingBack to Top

A.H. Slade was a listed artist who emigrated from Canada to the United States in the early 1890’s. His extant works are rare.



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1.73 EARLY 18th CENTURY ETCHING. Original, beautifully hand-colored etching by Francois Halma, dating circa 1706. It features a golden medallion depicting the Emperor Constantine flanked by two admiring puti. On either side are a woman in Roman dress and a helmeted warier with plumage and a spear. They are on either side of a grand battle scene entitled “IN HOC SIGNOVINCES.” Below are some thick bound volumes and a cartouche of a morbid figure. This images no doubt have some symbolic significance. At the lower left is the faint image appearing to be a conjoined “ID.” This etching is on early rag paper and bears the telltale plate mark on its edges. It measures 3 ½ x 5 inches sight. On the back is the certificate of authentication by ANTIUQUARIA SANT ANGELO of Rome, Italy. Condition is excellent. The colors are vibrant and the paper is perfect. Mounted is a simple acid free black mat measuring 7 ½ by 7 ½ inches. An amazing image over 300 years old! 99



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1.72 EARLY AMERICA’s CUP LITHOGRAPH. This is perhaps the holy grail of America’s Cup collectibles. This authentic hand-colored stone lithograph is entitled lower center:

“THE “AMERICA”
WINNING THE MATCH AT COWES FOR THE CLUB CUP.
open to Yachts of all Classes and Nations. August 22nd, 1851
From The original Sketch Taken On The Spot By OWSWALD W. BRIERLY.”

In this action-packed scene the artist depicts the triumphant vessel with her crew members on deck taking in the scene of spectator yachts, steamers and small craft, one of which is in the foreground. The AMERICA is shown flying the Union Jack Burgee from her mainmast. This is an original stone lithograph, the same as done by the very well-known American lithographers Currier & Eves, in their earliest days of production. Substantiating its authenticity it has a plate mark on the periphery of the image which proves is not photographic reproduction. An earlier type-written history entitled “The yacht AMERICA” is attached to the back. The image size is 19 ½ inches by 29 ½ inches. The simple wooden frame measures 22 ½ by 32 ½ inches. Framing under non-glare uv glass was done by the owner’s father in the 1960’s. Good original condition noting expected foxing and toning of paper this old. 895 Special Packaging



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1.12  PAINTING.  Luigi Papaluca, Italian, early 20th century, gouache on paper painting entitled "U.S.S. McDOUGAL" underway off Naples, with Mount Vesuvius in the distance. A pleasing, very colorful ship's portrait skillfully executed by this well-listed artist.  All of the ship's details are beautifully rendered with numerous crewmen visible on deck.  The painting measures 16 by 24 ½  inches sight and is signed lower right "L. Papaluca."  It is housed under glass in its original simple wooden frame with brass-reinforced corners measuring 17 by 26 inches. Circa 1940. Outstanding original condition. 995  NOW!  395 Special Packaging

 The second U.S. Navy ship to bear the name McDougal was laid down by the New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, N.J. on December 18, 1933, launched July 17, 1936 and commissioned as destroyer 358 on December 23rd that same year.

USS McDOUGAL (DD-358) began its career in the Pacific with Destroyer Squadron 9 out of San Diego, California.  In the spring of 1941 McDOUGAL returned to the Atlantic to escort the cruiser AUGUSTA with President Franklin D. Roosevelt embarked for a meeting with Prime Minister Winston Churchill in Newfoundland.  On August 10 McDOUGAL transported FDR to and from the meeting on the ill-fated British Battleship HMS PRINCE OF WALES.

Upon America's entry into World War II McDOUGAL patrolled off the South American coast until early September 1942 when she passed through the Panama Canal for duty with the Southeast Pacific force off the coast of Latin America.

Going back to the Atlantic via Cape Horn, McDOUGAL returned to New York in
September 1944.  McDOUGAL finished out the War escorting convoys between New
York and British ports.  She was struck from the Naval record on September 22, 1949.



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1.71   AMERICAN WHALESHIP  ETCHING.   Charles J. A. Wilson, American (1880-1965), detailed rendering of the 3-masted whaleship “MILTON” towing out under a dawn sky.  This precise etching is pencil titled lower left in the artist’s own hand “MILTON” and is pencil signed lower right “CJA Wilson” with his monogram just above.  The full-rigged ship is seen in the placid harbor with crewmen aloft on the fore and main mast upper yards unfurling sail ready for sea.  This detailed work clearly shows the helmsman and Captain aft at the wheel while crewmen are busy near the capstan and two more men are on the bowsprit unfurling the jib.  Four of the ship’s whaleboats can also be seen in their davits.  The little tug is precisely-executed, clearly showing a lifeboat, lights on the mast and smoke issuing from the funnel.  In essence, its presentation is a silhouette.  This etching is done on high quality rag paper and the impression measures 4 x 5 ¼  by 6 inches sight with an overall dimension of 6 ½  by 8 ½  inches.  Perfect original condition.  295

Charles J. A. Wilson, Scottish-American (1880-1965) was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1880.  At age one his family immigrated to Duluth, Minnesota.   As a teenager, Wilson moved to Newton, Massachusetts where he began his self-taught career as a painter of ships in Boston Harbor.  Early in the 20th century he was employed by Bethlehem Steel Shipbuilding Company etching ship portraits from blueprints.  During the Second World War he served with the United States Coast Guard in the Boston area, again putting his artistic talents to use for the War effort.  His works are exhibited in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Currier Gallery, Lyman Allyn Museum, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, New London Connecticut and the Library of Congress.

The venerable whaleship MILTON was a full-rigged ship displacing 373 tons. She made her first whaling voyage from New Bedford beginning in 1832 and ended her long career when she returned for the final time in 1876.



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1.24 FAMOUS YACHT PAINTING. John Hughes, British-American, (1806-1878) (attrib.) oil on artist's board of the most famous racing yacht of them all, the Yacht AMERICA. This dramatic rendering depicts the schooner AMERICA under full sail slicing through waves with spray in a stiff breeze on a port tack. She flies the American ensign from the spanker and at least seven crewmen are visible on deck. The painter has captured the instant in time with realistic detail down to the mast hoops, reefing lines and decorated billet. The scene is an open ocean yacht race with 3 other yachts on similar tacks and a 3-masted bark in the far distance. Painted at the peak of Hughes' career, this painting very possibly it is THE Royal Yacht Squadron's Regatta in which AMERICA won the America's Cup in 1851. It measures 17 1/2 by 11 1/2 inches and is housed in a magnificent period antique gilt gesso frame measuring 27 1/4 by 21 inches. Outstanding condition in all respects. SOLD

To those familiar with yachting history the AMERICA needs no introduction. AMERICA's genesis was sparked by an invitation from the Royal Yacht Squadron in England for an American vessel to participate in the Great Exhibition. Under Prince Albert's guidance, the exhibition was to be the first World's Fair up to that time. New York Yacht Club Commodore John C. Stevens took up the call and set about to build the "fastest yacht afloat." Stevens gathered a syndicate including Edwin Schuyler, J. Beekman Findlay and Hamilton Wilkes. They commissioned yacht designer George Steers, then working at the yard of William Brown on the East River in New York. What they created was a yacht with clipper bow, sharp forebody and a broad beam of 23 feet well aft. With a registered length of 93 1/2 feet and an 81 foot main mast, the yacht displaced 170 tons. Launched on May 3, 1851, to the most critical American eye she had particular grace. However when the tradition-steeped British builders first saw her they were horrified!

AMERICA arrived in British waters in July, however no races had been planned and no serious British challenges offered. Almost as an afterthought AMERICA's skipper, Richard Brown, suggested that his yacht be entered in the Royal Yacht Squadron's regatta race around the Isle of Wight for an "ordinary cup" worth one hundred guineas. The day of the race, Queen Victoria herself, aboard her yacht VICTORIA AND ALBERT was on hand to view the spectacle. 18 yachts were entered into the race. On board AMERICA, were 21 men including a local pilot.

At the start of the race AMERICA was last to get underway, but as the yachts reached The Needles for the run home a signalman on the Royal Yacht reported sighting the AMERICA. "Oh, indeed! And which is second?" was the Queen's query. As the signalman again swept the horizon with his spyglass, with a quivering voice he announced, "I regret to inform Her Majesty there is no second." As it turns out of course, there was a second, the gallant little yacht AURORA. But she was so far behind that the actual time of her crossing the finish remains unclear. The London Illustrated News reported a lapse of 21 minutes. Some 20 years after the race the New York Yacht Club accepted 8 minutes as the official figure.

It was a Yankee victory and a notable one which was to profoundly shake British yachting circles for decades to come. The "Aulde Cup" as it came to be known and later, popularly, the "America's Cup," found a home in the New York Yacht Club for the next 132 years!


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1.69  SHIP’s PORTRAIT.   A very handsome and colorful portrait of the steam screw freighter “S.S. TRIPP” steaming in Naples Harbor as smoke wafts from the iconic Mount Vesuvius in the background.  With artistic aplomb, sailboats are depicted off its bow.  This well-executed painting exhibits wonderful deck details as well as depicting crewmen at various work stations on deck and on the bridge.   It is identified in 3 places:   the nameboard on the pilot house, on the bow and lower center “S.S. TRIPP.”   This watercolor on artist’s paper is expertly done and is in unusually fine, bright condition for its age.  It measures 18 1/2 by 27 inches sight and is housed in its original simple wooden frame with gilded boarder and acid free mat.  Shipping with glass is optional, but not recommended.  23 by 31 ½ inches.   949  Special PackagingBack to Top

S.S. TRIPP was launched by the Northwest Steel Company of Portland, Oregon on September 30, 1919 for service in the United States Shipping Board during the waning days of the First World War.  She had a call sign of LRPQ, as shown on her flaghoist.  The ship was 409.8 feet in length,  a breadth of 54.2 feet and a depth of 27.7 feet, displacing 5,703 gross tons (3,513 net).  Her crew of 44 was operated for the U.S.S.B. by Lykes Brothers Steamship Corporation of San Francisco.   Her homeport was Galveston, Texas.

In this early portrait the ship is shown flying the distinctive U.S. Shipping Board flag from her after mast.  The United States Shipping Board (USSB) was established in September 1916 and implemented in January 1917 as the Great War in Europe summoned American involvement.  No doubt the new spic and  span ship was on her maiden voyage to Europe when this portrait was painted in Naples, Italy in late 1919 -- nearly 100 years ago.

Interestingly, in her later life TRIPP was transferred to the French government and renamed  ILE DE NOIRMOUTIER thence controlled by the Nazis.  On November 8, 1942 she was liberated by Allied forces in Casablanca and ultimately returned to France after VE Day in 1945. 



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1.14 PAINTING. Important, large and impressive marine painting by the famed ship artist Antonio Nicolo Gasparo Jacobsen (Danish-American, 1850-1921). This spectacular oil on canvas painting depicts the graceful steam/auxilliary sail passenger ship APACHE underway at sea. In a portside ship's portrait Jacobsen has captured the essence of this well known vessel in a fresh breeze with sails furled and name pennant, house flag and American ensign flying. As the ship plies choppy deep green seas, puffy cumulus clouds punctuate the azure sky while wisps of smoke and steam spill from the large solitary smoke stack. This especially pleasing rendering is boldly signed lower right "Antonio Jacobsen/Palisade Av. Division St./West Hoboken, NJ" and dates to 1904. It is housed in a simple wooden frame with gold liner measuring 35 by 55 inches. The painting itself measures 30 by 50 inches sight and is on its original wooden stretcher. It has just been professionally cleaned and relined. There is very little inpainting in evidence under ultraviolet light. What little there is consists of a few small areas in the sky only. There is no retouching to the vessel itself. Excellent, ready to display condition. Price Request Special PackagingBack to Top

The much heralded steam/sail passenger ship APACHE was launched by William Cramp & Son Shipbuilders, Philadelphia, PA in 1901. She was successfully operated by the Clyde Steamship Company out of her home port of New York during a profitable career which spanned 27 years.

Literature:

Harold Sniffen, "ANTONIO JACOBSEN The Chesklist," 1984, The Mariner's Museum, Newport News, VA, pages 32-33, item number 31. Dated 1904.
Harold Sniffen, "Painted Ships on Painted Oceans," The Mariner's Museum, Newport News, Virginia, 1994, full page color photograph page 133.

 



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1.68   PAINTING.   Genuine, highly sought after, mid-19th century oil on canvas port painting of the American clippership R. B. FULLER making its approaches to Hong Kong.  This classic China Trade ship’s portrait shows a starboard broadside view of the true clipper under full sail with only the   mizzen furled as she sails into port.  A number of crewmen are depicted on deck ready to take in sail on the captain’s orders.  The ship prominently flies the name pennant “R. B. FULLER” from the main mast and the American ensign from the spanker boom aft.  Deck details are clearly visible as are the gold trailboard along the bow and the ship’s nameboard.  In the background loom the famous hills of Hong Kong Harbor lined with quaint buildings, while the harbor is full of busy sailing vessels including the old hulk of a prison ship.  Just astern of the FULLER is a nicely rendered Chinese junk.  This predominantly deep blue painting is accentuated by the contrasty white sails of the clippership, making for a most dramatic presentation.  The pristine canvas is NOT relined and is mounted on its original old wooden stretcher.  It measures 17 ½ by 21 ½ inches sight and is housed in its very handsome antique gilt gessoed frame measuring 24 by 32 inches.  The painting is in remarkably untouched original condition.  Ready to hang.  Guaranteed to be of the period and at least 150 years old!  Museum quality.  Price Request Special PackagingBack to Top



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1.66  SHIP’s PORTRAIT.   Solon Francis Montecello Badger, American, 19th century, oil on canvas paining of the American 4-masted schooner “ESTELLE PHINNEY” as prominently noted on the quarterboard, name pennant and stern quarter board.   It is signed, lower left, “S.F.M. Badger 98.” This comprehensive work depicts the lovely vessel under full sail at sea with the coast and a prominent lighthouse in the background.  Nine men are shown at various work stations on deck.  Execution is extremely fine, including the foc'sle capstan, foredeck house with Charlie Nobel, 2 mid-deck hatches, midships deck house, after cargo hatch, aft deck house with skylights, helm, steering gear box and the ship’s lifeboat suspended on davits over the stern.   She flies the Union Jack from the foremast, the ship’s flag “EP” from the mizzen, the ship’s name pennant from the main and the American ensign from the aftermast.  On the poop deck the Captain can be seen pointing forward with helmsman at the wheel.  It is obvious from the minute details depicted in this work  the artist painted “from life” rather than from sketches or a photograph.   Much more detail than the typical Jacobsen!  The painting is clean and bright.  The colors are rich and all lines are crisp including scores of subtle reefing lines on the sails.  It measures 24 by 40 inches sight and is housed in a magnificent period gilted gesso wooden frame 34 ½ by 48 ½ inches. SOLD Back to Top

Solon Francis Montecello Badger was born in Boston in 1873 and grew up in neighboring Charleston, Massachusetts.   As a teenager he lodged with and was apprenticed to the well known Maine ship portrait painter William P. Stubbs.  In his early 20’s Badger took up ship painting, sailing around Boston Harbor in a small craft seeking commissions for his art from ship owners in that busy port.  As a result, his works reflect meticulous attention to detail required of him to “get it right” for his demanding sea borne clientele.  To these ends, sometimes he even worked from blueprints!  Badger died at the relatively young age of 46.  As his artwork gained notoriety after his death, he was known by the misnomer "Samuel Finley Morse Badger."  The unknown reason for this name discrepancy was only corrected a few years ago.  Museums exhibiting his work include the Maine Maritime Museum, Peabody Essex Museum, Mystic Seaport Museum and the Mariners’ Museum.
The date on this work, “98,” indicates Badger was only 25 years of age in 1898 when he completed this painting.
The 4-masted schooner ESTELLE PHINNEY  with call sign K.J.S.M.,  was a wooden hulled ship 189 feet in length displacing 923 tons.  She was built in New London, Connecticut in 1891 and homeported in New Haven.  (“List of Merchant Vessels of the United State 1899.”)  Shown here, she is sailing south off the coast of Scituate, Massachusetts with the famous Minot’s Ledge lighthouse in the background.



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1.40  IMPORTANT MINIATURE PORTRAIT.  Genuine 18th century Continental oil on ivory portrait miniature of a stately nobleman identified on the reverse in beautiful hand-written script as the "Barone Massimiliouro De Flercles."  This handsome young gentleman with lace collar is dressed in typical 18th C. finery.  Probably of Belgium origin.  An extremely well done miniature which bears close scrutiny under the most powerful magnification!  Housed in its original gilt metal frame 2 by 2 1/4 inches. Superb, untouched original condition.  695

Preceding the advent of the Daguerreotype, the first form of photography introduced in 1839, portrait miniatures such as this example, were the only means by which wealthy patrons could insure that their likenesses were preserved for posterity.


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1.23  OIL PAINTING ON GLASS.   J. Bell, English, late 19th century, oil on milkglass commemorative painting of the early steamer identified as “S.S. New England, Liverpool” in fancy lettering on the encircling life ring.  This genuine ship’s portrait is very detailed and colorfully presented, “framed” within a classic old life ring, adorned with garlands and a ship’s mast with the vessel’s house flag.  The portrait depicts the vessel flying the American flag from the foremast and the British ensign at the stern.  The painting itself measures 9 ½ by 11 ½ inches sight.  It is housed in its original carved walnut frame with gilt liner under old wavy glass secured with square nails.  The frame measures 14 ¼ inches wide by 15 ¼ inches high.  Outstanding original condition in all respects!  A delightful presentation. 1395


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1.46  AMERICAN ETCHING.   Charles J. A. Wilson, American, (1880-1965) detailed rendering of the passenger steamer LOUISE under full steam, heading out to sea.   This precise etching is pencil titled lower left in the artist’s own hand “Louise of Baltimore” and is pencil signed lower right “CJA Wilson” with his monogram just above.  The coastal steamer with early rocking beam engine and huge smoke stack is depicted loaded with sightseers on deck as flags and pennants proudly fly in the stiff breeze.  It is shown passing a can buoy to starboard, while a tramp steamer is seen making the harbor entrance in the background.  This etching is done on high quality rag paper and measures 4 ½ by 6 inches sight with an overall dimension of 6 ¾ by 8 ¾ inches.  Perfect original condition.  295

Charles J. A. Wilson, Scottish-American (1880-1965) was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1880.  At age one his family immigrated to Duluth, Minnesota.   As a teenager, Wilson moved to Newton, Massachusetts where he began his self-taught career as a painter of ships in Boston Harbor.  Early in the 20th century he was employed by Bethlehem Steel Shipbuilding Company etching ship portraits from blueprints.  During the Second World War he served with the United States Coast Guard in the Boston area, again putting his artistic talents to use for the War effort.

His works are exhibited in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Currier Gallery, Lyman Allyn Museum, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, New London Connecticut and the Library of Congress.
The handsome sidewheel steamer LOUISE, call sign JCMW, was a steel-hulled passenger vessel of 231.7 feet in length with a breadth of 33 feet, a draft of 8.8 feet, displacing 1023 tons.  She was built in Wilmington, Delaware in 1864 and operated under the ownership of Charles Morton out of Baltimore, Maryland.  In 1886 Morton sold his interests and LOUISE was relocated to Camden, New Jersey where she continued to ply the passenger trade into the early 1900’s.  (“Record of American & Foreign Shipping,” 1885, American Shipmasters Association, New York).

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1.34  PAINTING.  William Pierce Stubbs, American, 19th century, oil on canvas, ship’s portrait of the 3-masted schooner MORRIS W. CHILD.  This original large format rendering  depicts the vessel in a port side view at sea under full sail.  An island with lighthouse is shown on the left, while a steamer is visible on the horizon to the right.  The handsome schooner flies the Union Jack from the foremast, the owner’s flag from the main, a colorful swallow tail name pennant from the mizzen and the American ensign from the spanker aft.  The artist has lavished particular care in portraying the complex rigging as well as deck details, including crewman about their chores amidships and on the poop.  This painting measures 22 by 36 inches sight and is housed in its original ornate gilt gesso frame measuring 32 ¼ by 46 ¼ inches.   It is signed lower left, “W. P. Stubbs.”   Condition is excellent.  The painting has been professionally cleaned and relined, retaining all of its original color, brightness and detail.  The ornate frame with floral designs has been fully restored.  According to a label on the reverse this work was performed by Fynmore Studios, Boonville, N.Y. in April 1973.  Examination under black light shows modest inpainting, primarily in the sky and on the periphery due to stretcher bar wear, as expected of oil on canvas paintings over 100 years old. SOLD

The 3-masted schooner MORRIS W. CHILD, official number 91311, call sign J.V.F.L., was built in Bath, Maine by H. M. Bean in 1881.  She had a length of 145 feet, a breadth of 34 feet, a draft of 12 ½ feet and displaced 513 gross tons.  As of 1885 her master was Captain Torrey and her owners were J.P. Ellicot and Company, homeported in Boston, Massachusetts.  (“The Record of American & Foreign Shipping,” 1885, American Shipmasters’ Association).

William Pierce Stubbs was born in Bucksport, Maine in 1842 to the son of Captain Reuben Stubbs.  In 1876 he was listed in the Boston directories as a painter, and in 1877 as a marine artist.  He exhibited at the International Maritime Exhibition of Boston in 1890.  He died May 15, 1909.  His works are displayed in the Boston Historical Society, Maine Maritime Museum, Peabody Museum, Mystic Seaport Museum, Old State House Bostonian Society, Penobscot Marine Museum, Beverly Historical Society Massachusetts, Sailor’s Snug Harbor New York and the Smithsonian Institution.

Provenance:   This is one of three ship’s portraits of the 3-masted schooner MORRIS W. CHILDS commissioned of Stubbs by the Ellicot family, owners of the vessel.  By decent, it is the last to leave family hands.


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1.18 FAMOUS AMERICAN SILKWORK. Thomas Willis, American (worked 1875-1910), silk embroidery and oil on canvas. This classic Willis silkwork depicts the famous New York Yacht Club steam yacht MIRAGE. The sleek and powerful yacht is seen from the port side underway with the New York Yacht club burgee flying from the jackstaff, the owner's burgee of New York tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt flying from the mast and the American yachting ensign aft. Adding to its fame, the MIRAGE was built by Nathaniel Herreschoff, recognized as the greatest yacht builder in American history! With his typically amazing detail in this delicate medium, Willis shows the helmsman at the wheel with a skylight binnacle leading the way. Two uniformed sailors are on deck and the yacht's captain sits just forward of the mast. The owner (Vanderbilt himself) and another are shown lounging in deck chairs under the canopy aft with a steward in attendance. The vessel name "MIRAGE" is finely embroidered as a nameboard just under the funnel. Many other minute details are present such as the capstan forward, deck fittings, curtained windows, whistle, lifelines, lifeboat and lifering. Signed lower right, "T. Willis." This painting measures 18 by 31 inches sight and is housed in its original ornate gilt frame with gold liner under old wavy glass measuring 25 by 39 inches overall. The frame is exquisite. The oil on canvas painting bears expected age cracilature and there are a few professionally applied reinforcements on the back of the canvas. The silkwork embroidery is in perfect condition with bright colors, no losses and no loose threads. Willis' meticulous stitchery is fully visible on the back. Overall condition can certainly be rated as excellent. Circa 1900. Request Price Special Packaging

Undoubtedly this mixed media ship's portrait was personally commissioned of Willis by Mr. Vanderbilt. Cornelius Vanderbilt III (September 5, 1873 - March 1, 1942) was born into the wealthy and powerful Vanderbilt family, the namesake having amassed a fortune expanding American railroads Westward after the Civil War. Called "Neily" by his friends, the younger Vanderbilt did not rest on his grandfather's laurels however. He was a businessman, inventor, engineer, decorated military officer and yachtsman. Yachting was one of Neily Vanderbilt's favorite pastimes which provided him an escape from a busy life that included a seat on the board of directors of several major American corporations. In 1910, he piloted his yacht to victory in the New York Yacht Club's race for the "King Edward VII Cup."

Thomas H. Willis was born in Connecticut in 1850. By 1875 he had perfected a technique of depicting ships using silk thread embroidery. He moved to New York where he found a greater market for his works. He was a contemporary of famous marine artist Antonio Jacobsen and there is evidence that the two artists actually collaborated on some of their ships portraits. Willis' work is publicly displayed in a number of institutions including the Mariner's Museum, Newport News, Virginia, Mystic Seaport Museum, Connecticut and the Peabody Museum of Salem, Massachusetts. Many of his works were signed with the monogram of a conjoined T and W. This painting bears his full signature.

The fast steam yacht MIRAGE was a wooden hull vessel of 75 feet in length displacing 30 gross tons. She was built and launched by Nathaniel G. Herreschoff in his Bristol, Rhode Island yard in 1900. Later in her life the yacht was retrofitted with with gas engines. MIRAGE was still in service as late as 1925 under different ownership. (Lloyd's Register of American Yachts, 1925).

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