Considered by many as the finest design of preeminent British yacht architect George L. Watson, the steam yacht warrior was built for Frederick W. Vanderbilt in 1904. The grandson of American shipping and railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt, it is fitting that this very large portrait was performed by the prominent Mediterranean artist de Simone. Frederick cruised the yacht to Europe in 1905, a few years before the British would charter her for World War I patrol duty, and again for World War II.
Showing her strong lines (282' loa x 32.6' beam x 14.5' draft), de Simone depicts nine people with one officer manning the helm. The strong white hull with natural wood finishes shows her cabins and instruments very well, and highlights the clipper bow with the gilt trailboard and carved figurehead. Strong contrasts between the soft blue-green sea and paler sky tones make the ship and her three flags pop: the New York Yacht Club Burgee, Vanderbilt’s Personal Signal and the American Ensign.
The luxury steam yacht was built by Ailsa Ship Building Co. At troon, and at her best could push 15 knots from her pair of triple expansion engines and scotch boilers. Frederick was capable of a good head of steam as well. Of the numerous grandchildren, he was one of the only to turn his inheritance into a much larger sum, working diligently at the family railroad business. Married to Louise Holmes Anthony, the couple had no children, but left endowments to many charities and the university which now bears his name in Nashville, Tennessee. He sold the yacht in 1915 to his nephew, carrying on the family tradition. She is painted here in her earliest configuration.
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