Document No 374: Regatta with Yachts (Goelet Cup on August 5, 1887)

Click for larger
AUTEUR : J. E. Buttersworth

REF : 0

EDITION : 1886

DATE : 05 Aug 1887



18" x 24" (45.72cm x 60.96cm)
Oil/Canvas Signed Lower Right

A dynamic commission by the premier American artist of racing yachts, James E. Buttersworth, this narrative portrait captures the racing sloop HURON in competition for the Goelet Cup on August 5, 1887. Shown as the committee ship starting gun is fired, the Sloop VOLUNTEER has the early lead, and the plum-bow cutter MAYFLOWER is on HURON's port quarter. The Goelet Cup, raced for by schooners and sloops of the New York Yacht Club and the Eastern Yacht Club, was a highlight of the cruise season. VOLUNTEER would hold her thin lead to win the trophy.

Flying personal signal pennants for individual glory, the Boston-built MAYFLOWER was owned by General Charles J. Paine, and arose from the designs of Edward “Ned” Burgess, built entirely of oak and hard pine in a day when steel hulls, such as VOLUNTEER's, were on the rise. Buttersworth appears to have been on the water with a crowd reported to thickly line the course, to see if the new sloop could best the America's Cup champion, and undoubtedly painted other commissions at this same event. Interestingly enough, both MAYFLOWER and VOLUNTEER would be converted to schooner rigs within two years. Trailed by N.Y.Y.C. Rear Commodore William Butler Duncan Jr's HURON, a fast but smaller sloop that competed for years after her 1883 launch, the 1887 Goelet Cup is probably the only event to feature all three yachts as sloops.

Buttersworth's ocean has complex rhythmic flow to its shape and movement, seen most often in his paintings of the late 1870s-80s. The horizon holds many other racers, and the profile of a large steam yacht, most probably N.Y.Y.C.'s ELECTRA, the committee ship for the cruising season. Above, a heavy gray sky is broken with the illuminating glow of Buttersworth's light qualities, with fingers of sunlight cast throughout.


Public domain
Bonhams 716 543
Vallejo Maritime Gallery 1000 746,_1887&category=&id=1960&
AskART 400 304