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Clipper ship masterpiece by James Edward Buttersworth sails into Bonhams New York
James Edward Buttersworth, The Clipper Ship Flying Cloud Coming Out of a Hurricane. Est. $200,000-300,000. Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams.
NEW YORK, NY.- Possibly the artist’s finest ocean scene, James Edward Buttersworth’s 1855 The Clipper Ship Flying Cloud Coming Out of a Hurricane will be up for auction on January 25 at Bonhams Important Maritime Paintings & Decorative Arts sale (est. $200,000-300,000). The painting, in absolutely pristine condition, depicts the record-setting clipper ship in a raging sea with a darkened sky. The masterful, dramatic composition featuring expert line work fully demonstrates Buttersworth at his best.

“We are so pleased to present Buttersworth’s The Clipper Ship Flying Cloud Coming Out of a Hurricane, which I consider a masterpiece,” remarked the sale’s specialist, Gregg Dietrich. “That said, there is an absolute abundance of important paintings on offer. We couldn’t have a better cross-section of maritime artists than those featured in the January 25 sale.”

Already attracting attention is Nicolas Pocock’s The Battle of Cape Santa Maria (est. $100,000-$150,000). The dramatic composition of the bloody 1804 battle, fought before war was officially declared between Britain and Spain, has both significant historic and artistic value. Works by Antonio Jacobsen, Percy Sanborn, Montague Dawson and Henry Scott, just to name a few, will also be up for auction.

Alongside this impressive selection of paintings, connoisseurs will be delighted to find an excellent assortment of ship models, including a builder’s presentation half-model of the America’s Cup defender Puritan circa 1885 (est. $3,000-5,000). Also of note is a late 18th century Napoleonic prisoner-of-war bone model (est. $12,000-18,000). A quintessential example of the form, prisoner-of-war models were made by prisoners during the Napoleonic wars who organized themselves into guilds, typically run by French ivory workers.

The highlight of the ship model section is most certainly an important 1892 American builders’ model of the SS Peru form Union Iron Works in San Francisco (est. $60,000-80,000). The SS Peru was a steel-hulled passenger freighter that foundered between Marseille and Oran in 1920, taking 122 lives. Displayed on keel blocks within a builders’ model of a dry dock, this exceedingly rare shipyard-built example is breathtaking both for its quality and distinct presentation, including the original mahogany framed glass case with skirt and legs.

Distinctive scrimshaw material will also be on offer, as well as unique maritime collectibles. A 20th century American dollhouse detailed as a maritime museum has been a hit with passersby who have spotted the unusual charmer through Bonhams Madison Avenue display windows (est. US$15,000-25,000).

The Important Maritime Paintings & Decorative Arts sale will take place at Bonhams New York on January 25. The sale will be on view at Bonhams from January 19 to January 24.

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