A trio of English racing cutters compete over an ocean course in this lively mixed-media watercolor and gouache work by maritime art master Montague Dawson. The challenge of yachting skill is quantified by speed, and the crew of each yacht knows it must act as a harmonious unit to get the most out of their cutters. With the helmsman hard on the tiller to brace the rudder, the two sailors are heaving the main sail to turn the cutter yacht back into the wind. Once the trailing yachts make their turn, the three vessels will all have the task of tacking into the breeze to make the finish line.
Dawson excelled at realistic portrayals while keeping his art fluid and loose. Unmatched in his portrayal of the chaotic power of the ocean, here he has caught a moment with the lead cutter dipping the starboard rail deep, leveraging every tool available to make the brisk turn and keep the lead. The full sails of the chasing yachts shows the prevailing wind's headlong direction. The mix of media allows Dawson a freer, flowing style. He excelled in yacht subjects of this media in the 1930s.
As an artist, Dawson strove for realism while mastering the artistic aesthetics. The individual character of the three yachtsmen in the cutter's deep cockpit is remarkable, and one may actually feel their rising spirits as they lead the match. Their competition is still in sight, and they know that victory is round this mark and to be found across the finish line.
Provenance: Charles Nicholls & Son Gallery, Manchester, 1930s; Private United Kingdom Collection.
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