The perils of the sea are well recorded. Sailors, authors and artists through the ages have spoken myths, written tales and painted her devastating and indifferent might. Holding firm yet showing signs of the struggle, Buttersworth illustrates the power and resistible force of an Atlantic storm faced by British Naval Warship and her stalwart crew.
Buttersworth’s motives for painting small scenes such as this were not fully explained by him, but scholars and researchers have none the less attempted to explain his underlying thoughts conveyed through the artistic processes; we will do no less. Our feeling is that he painted the seas’ might not to forswear human endeavors, but to instill courage in viewers facing the possibilities of perilous moments. The art is no less dramatic, yet the smaller formats make the risks seem more manageable. The ship holds firm in the face of the gale, and will sail again.
The deep shadow of the breaking storm is a universal element in Buttersworth's marine paintings, and here the devise effectively summons forth a positive outlook for the adventurers and their ship. The worst has passed and soon it will be full sail ahead once again. Buttersworth chose to perform such works in a smaller format than that the large ship portraits of clippers and yachts that he performed on direct commissions for some of America’s most influential sailing men and merchants in the 19th century.
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