This work is a striking symbioses of color and facts by premier marine artist James E. Buttersworth. The three-masted merchant schooner is shown sailing on approach to the greater New York bay area, driven with all available canvas. The luminous glow of a late afternoon emboldens the sails and sky, and the crisp details offer a view of the east coast which is much changed today.
The soft tonal variation and subtle textures in this painting show the influence of the artist's father, Thomas Buttersworth, also a well regarded artist. The sharp detail and gracefully drawn hull line of the North Belleville, New Jersey-built schooner, with its early 1866 white hull are perfect. The flags are all clearly visible. Her name pennant on the fore, with an American flag and commissioning pennant on the main indicate government service, possibly as a mail carrier after the civil war. The houseflag or private signal aft is eerily like that of the famous Boston clipper, Gamecock. Harry Landell registered a home port of Newark. Perhaps a captain in common at the schooner's helm, or merely a similar flag, followed by the American ensign on the mizzen gaff boom?
The northeast atlantic shore of New Jersey houses several lights, but these are most likely the earliest incarnations of sandy hook light and south stack on the point. The other location option is the Conover Beacon in the city of Leanardo, and its counterpart, the Chapel Hill Lighthouse. Together they marked the main channel range into Sandy Hook Bay. Sailing on, the schooner makes for the environs of New York, where Buttersworth's business thrived.
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