Born in 1817 in Middlesex County, Great Britain, James Edward Buttersworth was the son of important English sea painter Thomas Buttersworth. Settling in New York in 1845, he soon established himself as one of America's leading marine artists. For the most part he signed his works J.E. Buttersworth.
During the next period of his life, many of his works were chosen by Currier & Ives as subjects for lithographs. His images were also used in magazines and newspapers that reported the yachting events of the day. New York Harbor and the surrounding areas became a favorite background for his vessels which he portrayed faithfully with an eye for precise detail. His reputation sprang from his accurate representations of the great sailing yachts of his time.
In order to accent the speed and grace of these vessels, he would often elongate the hulls and sails to create a feeling of motion portrayed along a low horizon line. With dramatic skies, churning seas and accurate detail, he ennobled and romanticized sailing ships with what have become historically important paintings that are both beautiful and refined.