West Sea Company

1. Fine Art & Prints

Prices in U.S. Dollars are in GREEN

 




1.12  PAINTING.   Luis Luca Papaluca, Italian (1890-1944), gouache on paper painting entitled "U.S.S. McDOUGAL" underway off Naples, with Mt. Vesuvius in the distance.  A pleasing, very colorful ship's portrait skillfully executed by this well-listed marine artist.  All of the ship's details are beautifully rendered with numerous crewmen visible on deck. The painting measures 16 by 24 1/2 inches sight and is signed lower right by very well listed marine artsit "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. 895   Special PackagingBack to Top

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) first operated 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 embarked with President Franklin D. Roosevelt 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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1.69  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 shipAPACHE 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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1.67  CHINA TRADE PAINTING.  Exquisite Chinese port painter’s broadside of a British man-o-war during the third quarter of the 19th century.  This diminutive oil on canvas portrait portrays the white-hulled steam/sail vessel underway at sea with sails furled, on the approaches to Hong Kong.  The 3-masted square-rigged ship is depicted in precise detail, with deck fittings, boats in their cradles and davits, standing and running rigging gunports, rails and much, much more!  The artist must have used magnification and a single hair brush for such marvelous execution!  The ship flies the British Naval ensign prominently from the spanker boom aft.  It is shown plying a placid jade green sea with puffy cumulus clouds in the azure sky.  The oil on linen canvas mounted on the original stretcher bars measures 5 ¾ by 8 ¾ inches sight and housed in its original ornate Chinese Chippendale frame 8 ¾ by 11 ½ inches.  An exceptional example of this genre. Price Request



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1.29

1.29  PORTRAIT MINIATURE.  Late 18th century oil on ivory miniature portrait of a lovely young woman with an open bodice in a lacey pink dress, signed “Servet.”   The beautiful maiden is depicted wearing a tiara in her hair with a large broach on her bosom.  This amazingly detailed painting truly captures her beauty with masterful brush strokes depicting individual strands of her hair and the glisten in her expressive brown eyes.  Contained in the original gilt metal oval frame under glass, the reverse of which bears a small suspension ring for display.  3 1/8 by 2 3/8 inches.  Perfect original condition exhibiting subtle colors.  595

Prior to 1839 when the Daguerreotype was introduced as the first form of photography, portrait miniatures commissioned of talented artists by wealthy patrons were the only means they had of preserving their likenesses for posterity.  Obviously these artworks were costly.  Only the aristocracy were able to indulge in such luxuries.


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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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1.54  PAINTING.  Nels Hagerup, American, well-listed 19th century artist, oil on canvas rendering of the glorious Golden Gate of San Francisco, fully 50 years before the famed iconic bridge.  This stunning night scene depicts the crescent moon with stars over the craggy headlands bearing the Bonita Point Light Station (1855) which looms in the distance.  The calm seas portray an eerie lumisescene of moon glow in this classic nocturne.  The original canvas (not relined) on its original stretcher measures 12 ½ by 21 ½ inches sight.  It is in excellent original condition with only one tiny, inconsequential patch in the extreme upper right.  This pleasing painting is housed in its original carved wooden, gessoed Art nouveau frame measuring 19 by 28 inches.  Excellent original condition throughout.  Ready to hang.   Price Request



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1.53  CHINA TRADE PAINTING.  Genuine, turn-of-the-last century oil on canvas portrait of the 2-masted steamship identified as the “HONG KONG” on the port bow.  The handsome vessel is depicted from a port broadside perspective flying the house and owner’s flags from the masts and the French ensign at the stern.  She is shown underway in smooth seas steaming into port.  This beautifully-executed rendering was obviously done by a skilled Chinese port painter as evidenced by attention paid to the figures on deck and the ship’s details, bearing close scrutiny under magnification.  This period rendering is laid down on an old, solid wood panel (not plywood) and measures 17 ½ by 11 ¼ inches sight.  It is housed in an antique carved wooden art nouveau frame from the period measuring 22 ¼ by 16 ¼ inches overall.  Condition is excellent, original and unrestored, noting there are numerous small bubbles where the canvas has delaminated from the wood backing.   The frame is perfect.  995


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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. 795 Special PackagingBack to Top

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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1.52  FAMOUS ARTIST-SIGNED LITHO.   Gordon Grant, American, early 1900’s limited edition lithograph entitled “ The Little Harbor” and pencil signed in the artist’s own hand lower right.  It depicts two fishermen laden with their catch, walking up hill with the wharf and harbor behind them.  The image measures 10 by 12 ½ inches sight.  The scene is nicely matted under glass in its original simple wooden frame measuring 16 ¾ by 20 ¾ inches.  The framing paper on the reverse is in tact and bears the artist’s label reading “THE LITTLE HARBOR, A Limited Edition Signed Original Lithograph By GORDON GRANT.”   It bears the second framer’s label reading “Associated American Artists Galleries, New York, Chicago, Beverly Hills.”  Perfect,  untouched original condition throughout.  Ready to hang.   195

Gordon Grant was arguably the most famous and most prolific American maritime artist of the early 20th century.  He was born in San Francisco in 1875.  From the beginning he showed his precociousness as an artist, so at the tender age of 13 his parents saw fit to send him around the horn on a sailing ship to England to study at the Lambeth & Heatherley’s Art School in London.   Upon completion of his training he retuned to New York where he was employed by Harper’s Weekly.  He was a member of the National Academy of Design, American Watercolor Society, the Salmungudi Club, National Arts Club, Allied Artists of America, New York Water Color Society, Chicago Society of Etchers and the Philadelphia Water Color Club.  His works are on exhibit at The Library of Congress and most museums.  Grant is certainly one of the most recognized American marine artists of all time.  (Per full label on reverse) 


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1.50  RARE EARLY CHROMOLITHOGRAPH BY THE INVENTOR.  Second quarter of the 1800’s color print of a dramatic shipwreck at sea.  This scarce image is an original example of the earliest form of commercially viable color printing as done by Englishman George Baxter, credited with inventing the process in 1834.  It consists of a large format print measuring 11 by 15 inches site which is mounted on its original stiff card backing measuring 16 ½ by 21 ½.  In the foreground at least 12 crewmen are depicted desperately clinging to a yard arm as their ship breaks up in wild, wind-whipped waves behind them.  Many more hapless survivors are shown hanging onto the rigging or amidst flotsam in the sea.  The ship was a noble vessel -- a man-o-war or East Indiaman -- as clearly evidenced by a cannon in the forward gunport abaft its  beakhead bow.  But the fierce storm has literally torn the ship to pieces!  The expressions of fear and helplessness are indelibly incised on the faces of the would-be survivors.  The largest figure in the scene, center foreground, may actually be the captain himself, who, in an allegorical gesture extends his hand in a futile effort to save his drowning crew.  The detail of this image is unsurpassed and bears scrutiny under magnification to render all it contains! Condition of the print itself is remarkable.  The colors are true, extremely sharp, and the paper is excellent.  The card is in tact but shows soiling, one fold upper left and water staining right and lower left.  These minor flaws could easily be masked for a perfect display using the proper mat.   Very rare!   299 

George Baxter (1804–1867) was an English artist and printer in London credited with inventing commercially viable color printing.  Although color printing had been developed in China centuries before, it was extremely labor intensive.  In the early 1800’s, another Englishman George Savage revived the process.  Thereafter, Baxter, already an accomplished artist and engraver, took Savage’s initiative to the next level.

At age 20 Baxter was illustrating books printed by his father.  In 1827 he studied under Samuel Williams, a wood engraver.  Later that year he set up his own business and married Mary Harrild, daughter of Robert Harrild, a printing engineer and friend of his father.  In 1828, he began experimenting with color printing using woodblocks.  His experiments bore commercial fruit in 1834 in the form of two small vignettes published in Edward Mudie’s "British Birds.”  The following year he was granted a patent for “Improvements in Producing Coloured Steel Plate, Copper Plate and other Impressions,” which he continued to use for the next thirty years.

Baxter’s process for producing color prints combined relief and intaglio printing together with various inks in a variety of ingenious methods.   Typically a steel “key plate” was prepared combining engraving, stipple, etching and aquatint.  Usually Baxter used aquatint for landscapes and stipple work for faces and figures.  Following printing of the key plate, relief blocks were prepared, usually from wood but also from zinc or copper, using impressions of the key plate to create the blocks.  Typically one block was prepared for each color, although sometimes two or more colors were used on the same block, requiring hand inking of individual areas. Each color was applied and allowed to dry before the next was printed.   Baxter achieved precise registration by fixing the print over a number of spikes, onto which the blocks also fit.  It is believed that he also used hand-coloring for some finishing touches.

Despite his technical excellence and the general popularity of his prints, Baxter’s business was never profitable.  His process was laborious and probably his perfectionism prevented him from completing many of his commissioned works in a timely manner.   Baxter declared bankruptcy in 1865 and died in 1867


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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

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. Request Price Special Packaging

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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