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Buttersworth paintings dominate Maritime Auction at Bonhams New York
James Edward Buttersworth (British/American, 1817-1894), "The America's Cup yacht Vigilant". Oil on canvas, 20 x 30 in. (50.8 x 76.2 cm.). Sold for $305,000 including premium. Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams.
NEW YORK, NY.- The June 25 auction of Fine Maritime Paintings & Decorative Arts held at Bonhams, the third largest international fine art auction house, was a great success in many categories. Paintings by James Edward Buttersworth were especially sought after, with the artist’s master work "The America's Cup yacht Vigilant," surpassing its pre-sale estimate, selling for an impressive $305,000. Consigned by a Connecticut private collector, the painting depicts the famed yacht Vigilant, which was built in 1893 by the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company in Rhode Island. The racing sloop won the 1893 American selection trials for the America's Cup defense, and also faced the British-made keel cutter Valkyrie II in a best three out of five races format on the coast of Sandy Hook, New Jersey. That particular race was reportedly the fastest race ever sailed, over a course of 15 miles to windward and a return under reefed sail and a gale.

Other Buttersworth masterpieces achieved impressive results, including "New York Harbor Regatta" which fetched $118,750, "The packet ship St. Patrick in rough seas" which sold for $37,500 and "A British ship of the line firing a salute while departing Portsmouth Harbour" that hammered down for $31,250.

Other sale highlights include a portrait by Turin-born artist John Francis Rigaud of one of England's most distinguished 19th century inhabitants, Sir Charles Pole, which sold above estimate for $81,250. The painting was executed in 1781 when Sir Pole was 24 years of age; the work was most likely commissioned after Pole was appointed Captain of the 32-gun Royal Navy frigate HMS Success. Montague Dawson's "Bound for the West - East India Clipper Ship Waimate" realized $43,750. The Waimate was built by J. Blumer and Company at Sunderland, U.K. in 1870. During her voyages to New Zealand, she held the fastest record of completing passage from London to Lyttleton of just 74 days.

Samuel Walters's "The American clipper ship 'Llewellyn F. Morse' bound for New Orleans" fetched $42,500 (estimate $20,000-30,000). This painting was the subject of a well-known ship that enjoyed a long sailing career and was eventually retired in 1925 becoming a movie star, appearing as the U.S.F. Constitution in the film "Old Ironsides." Another maritime painting that achieved more than three times its low estimate was a work attributed to William Howard Yorke entitled "A three masted American clipper," which claimed $22,500 (estimate $7,000-10,000).

Ship models from the collection of the Independence Seaport Museum were highly sought after, most notably the Napoleonic prisoner of war 120-gun ship, the H.M.S. Caledonia, taking in twice its low estimate at $50,000 (estimate $25,000-35,000). A private seller also found success for a consigned model of the U.S.F. Constitution, which sold for $20,000 (estimate $7,000-10,000). The model emulates the craftsmanship of what is considered to be the oldest commissioned vessel in the U.S. Navy.

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