This fascinating narrative appears to be a personal memoir of the yacht's owner. Four vessels are shown, and all four wear the private signal of New York Yacht Club commodore and advertising magnate J. Walter Thompson. In this work, Commodore Thompson acquired an action packed image of his fleet of personal yachts. The primary subject vessel is the schooner WATER WITCH, designed and built in 1881 by D.O. Richmond at Mystic, Connecticut for Charles Mallory, also of the NYYC.
James Gayle Tyler has skillfully depicted WATER WITCH on port tack on Long Island Sound. Two steam yachts appear in the background, one of which is undoubtedly STELLA, the steam yacht Thompson owned while he was NYYC commodore. A small steam launch in the foreground also flies the Thompson flag. The most likely explanation for Tyler's composition is that that it was likely created on direct commission from J. Walter Thompson to portray his impressive ‘quiver' of yachts.
WATER WITCH enjoyed a stellar racing career under several owners. Mallory sold the vessel to Charles Armour (of the meat packing family) in 1887. Armour then sold her to J. Walter Thompson in 1890. In 1894, David Banks bought the schooner from Thompson. Banks in turn sold WATER WITCH to George Gould in 1895. The painting is known to have decorated the offices at different times of Banks, Gould, and Thompson.
Painted in Tyler's best period this is an outstanding rendering of a collection of vessels set in a sea and sky alive with active brushwork. One of the best works by the artist we've seen.
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