A superior and graceful schooner as grand as any ever built, AMBASSADRESS was William Backhouse Astor, Jr's "floating home" from its launch in 1877 until he sold it in 1884 and purchased his massive steam/sail yacht NOURMAHAL. Designed and built by the renowned David Carll, AMBASSADRESS wasn't intended as a 146'2" racing schooner (the largest centerboard yacht ever built), but as an opulent home on the water, with exotic woods, carpeting, panel mirrors and every amenity Astor could desire. Still she handled remarkably well and sailing in all weather at speed, by all accounts.
Buttersworth's art presents a selection of New York Yacht Club vessels tacking into a headwind on the port quarter. Two large schooners and a cutter sail along with AMBASSADRESS flying American ensigns, with the rolling Atlantic Ocean contesting each of them. Quite likely this is AMBASSADRESS first yacht club's cruise of 1877 to Newport, and Astor has commissioned the artist to capture it for posterity, with the club pennant and his private signal aloft. When not onboard, Astor's yacht would often be found docked off his Hudson River Estate, Ferncliff. The 500-acre "farm" had cattle and his horse stables as well, with his prize thoroughbred Vagrant winning the 1876 Kentucky Derby.
Buttersworth frequently accepted commissions from many of the era's most important yachtsmen, who wished to preserve their seasonal victories and beautiful ships. The sharp details and gracefully drawn lines of the schooner yacht are well represented, as the regatta follows her under a clouded yet bright sky. The textured application of oil brings forth a realistic first-person view of a classic schooner from the water. Astor would sell his prized yacht to Nathaniel Thayer of Boston in 1884.
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