William A. Coulter was perhaps the best known and most important marine artist on the west coast to chronicle the end of the great age of sail during the declining years of the 19th century. His paintings not only recorded the unique scows, tugboats, feluccas and schooners indigenous to the San Francisco Bay area, but the great sailing ships from around the world that visited this burgeoning west coast sea port.
One of the most important ships from this era was the great Donald McKay designed clipper FLYING CLOUD. Built in the renowned Boston yard sponsored by Enoch Train in 1851, the 1783 gross ton vessel was McKay's second, and most famous clipper design. On her maiden voyage from New York to San Francisco, this legendary flyer set a record of 89 days, 21 hours, a record unsurpassed for 135 years.
In this starboard bow view, Coulter captures the graceful lines and complex rigging plan of the 229 foot long FLYING CLOUD with her complete sail inventory full and drawing against a soft, cloud filled sky. Her distinctive gold and white angel figurehead rides high above the waves, as she carves her way through an emerald sea, and into her well-deserved place in maritime history.
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