William Howard Yorke grew up fast under the tutelage of his artist-father William Gay Yorke in the Port of Liverpool. Born in Canada, he came to the port city as a child in 1855 with his family, where he remained the rest of his career and life. Yorke’s earliest known painting, a ship portrait of BENARES in the Mystic Seaport Maritime Museum collection is dated 1858, making the child an artist at eleven!. While it is known that his father left for America in 1871, the son stayed behind.
A serious devotion to his profession made Yorke a success, especially among the captains and working sailors from the ships he portrayed, with many of his paintings traveling home with them to America, and other ports abroad. His finely detailed ship portraits would be precise enough to earn their admiration, and artistic enough to appeal to a broad audience in Liverpool.
As a technical sign of Yorke’s paintings, he employed a translucent quality to the bow wave of each ship, and sent forth a reflection of the bow and stern onto his seas. Where his ships were spot on, he often carried a primitive folk art character to his people shown onboard. He continued for many years, becoming one of the most prominent ship portrait painters in Liverpool and all of the United Kingdom.
William Howard Yorke’s Ship Portraits are in the Collections of;
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, England
San Francisco Bar Pilots Association, San Francisco, CA
Sausalito Historical Society, Sausalito, California
Merchant's Exchange (Union Bank), San Francisco, California
Among Many Other Important Collections Nationwide.