Document No 504: Yacht MAYFLOWER Defending the Americas Cup

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AUTEUR : Franklyn Bassford

REF : 0

EDITION : 1886

DATE : 07 Sep 1886 - 11:30



Oil on Canvas
Dated (18)86
20 x 28 Inches

Early America's Cup races were historic events of great interest, particularly in the matchup of rivals America and Great Britain for yachting's most prestigious title. This 6th America's Cup race pitted American yacht MAYFLOWER of the New York Yacht Club against British yacht GALATEA of the Royal Northern Yacht Club, Rothsay, Isle of Bute, Scotland.

Built in 1886 by George Lawley's City Point Yard in Boston from the design of Edward Burgess, MAYFLOWER followed their successful syndicate project led by Paine and J. Malcolm Forbes with PURITAN, the defender of the 1885 challenge. They both possessed deeper hulls with lead ballast on the outside, overhanging sterns and modified cutter rigs, greatly changing yacht design to a far more capable boat in all weather. MAYFLOWER was 100' with a 85˝' waterline, 23˝' beam and a 9'9" draft that extended down 20' with the centerboard. GALATEA, designed by John Beaver-Webb and built in 1885 for owner Lt. Willam Henn, R.N., was 102.4' in length overall, with a 15' beam and 13.6' draft.

MAYFLOWER was not successful in her first matches, but after some adaptations, by August she was unbeatable- winning not only the trials and the Cup, but every match she raced the rest of the year.

Demand for works of art depicting this match were extreme with every fine maritime painter of the day taking on the great race. However, it was this painting by Bassford that drew the attention of Currier & Ives who lithographed it into the well-known piece entitled, “Mayflower Saluted by the Fleet: Crossing the Bow of the Galatea in their first race for the America's Cup over the inside course, New York Bay, Sept. 7th, 1886”.

Clearly, when Currier & Ives saw this painting they recognized Bassford's artistic skill and attention to detail which can be seen throughout. Spectator vessels surround the two racing yachts- the open decks of two public white excursion boats can be seen fore and aft of the Mayflower, along with three private steam vessels each bearing the NYYC burgee. Further behind the full sails of other yachts can be seen following the race. From lively impressionistic brushwork in the sea to every detail on the ships, every element of this painting expresses the importance and excitement of the race.

Provenance: East Coast Private Collection


Public domain
Christie's 512 353
Vallejo Maritime Gallery 864 616
Vallejo Maritime Gallery 864 616