James Edward Buttersworth was born in London, England in 1817. His family comprised a number of marine artists. James received his first artistic training from his father Thomas Buttersworth Jr. who was himself a noted maritime artist. James immigrated to the United States in 1845 and settled in what was then known as West Hoboken, New Jersey and which is now known as Union City. He also maintained a studio in Brooklyn, New York beginning in 1854. Buttersworth arrived in America both fortuitously and propitiously during a period of time that would later be known as the Golden Age of Sail. Almost at once he set about executing marine paintings that portrayed packet ships, ocean steamships, clipper ships, naval frigates, harbor craft and glamorous yachts. Even to this day James Buttersworth is recognized and lauded as one of the most preeminent 19th century American ship portraitists. His style of painting is celebrated and collected for its meticulous detail, dramatic settings, and graceful renderings of the sleek new clipper ships which were setting all kinds of speed records around the globe. Nathaniel Currier and James Merritt Ives adapted many of their lithographs from his marine paintings which depicted famous vessels and marine disasters and which were executed between 1847 and 1865. In 1851 James returned to England in time for the Hundred Pound Cup Race which was held in August of 1851. The sketches and paintings that recorded the yachting competition provided a lasting record of the event. Throughout the 1850’s Buttersworth continued to develop a formidable reputation as a ship portraitist. In 1893 one year prior to his death Buttersworth chronicled the Vigilant vs. Valkyrie Cup Match in a series of paintings which completed the recording of the America’s Cup Races just prior to the advent of photography.
The 19th century artist James Edward Buttersworth is considered by many to be one of the most accomplished painters of sailing vessels. Hailed for his ability to render maritime scenes in exacting detail, Buttersworth produced paintings that have been treasured by astute collectors and collected by museums for generations. Naval Frigate Sailing Past Dover Castle is an early work by Buttersworth, executed circa 1850-5 after leaving for America in 1849. Buttersworth typically painted British subjects early in his career and continued after having departed from England, the iconic White Cliffs of Dover fresh in his mind.
Kennedy Galleries, New York
Private Collection, Newtown, Connecticut