Signed 'A.W. Fowles', inscribed 'Ryde I. of W.' and dated 1869 (lower left) NOTES AMERICA-SCOOP :
oil on canvas
Provenance: Christie's, 16th April 1993, half lot 569. Sold ú32,000 (hammer).Fowles was born in Ryde, Isle of Wight and seems to have lived and worked there all his life. His pictures often depict local yachting scenes and he also liked to commemorate Royal occasions, especially Queen Victoria's connection with the island. The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich has 5 of his works.
The slightly ambiguous title of this work in fact refers to the influential Anglo-American race around the Isle of Wight after Cowes Week in August 1868 which was won by "Cambria" in a fast 6 hours 17 minutes and 50 seconds. The three other British contenders - "Aline" (212-ton schooner, Mr. Richard Sutton), "Condor" (129-ton cutter, Mr. J. Ewing) and "Oimara" (165-ton cutter, Mr. C.J. Tennant) - all finished within 7 minutes of "Cambria" whilst the American schooner "Sappho" limped home more than 1¢ hours behind the winner. It has to be said that "Sappho", already handicapped by too much ballast and, curiously, still sporting her unsuitable trans-Atlantic cruising rig, lost first her martingale and then her jib-boom despite the light prevailing winds. Her embarrassing performance was therefore completely out of character and totally belied her considerable racing qualities, all of which James Ashbury chose to ignore as the plans to challenge for the 'America's Cup' began to crystallise in his mind.