James E. Buttersworth 
American Steam Schooner Meets British Frigates Crossing the English Channel Anglo-American (1817-1894)

Oil on Canvas Circa 1835
18 x 24 Inches 25 ¼ x 31 ¼ Inches Framed
Signed LR: J.E. Buttersworth  
   

James E. Buttersworth 
 
Anglo-American (1817-1894)
 
American Steam Schooner Meets British Frigates Crossing the English Channel

Oil on Canvas Circa 1835
18 x 24 Inches 25 ¼ x 31 ¼ Inches Framed
Signed LR: J.E. Buttersworth  
   

Three ships - an American Three-Masted Steam Schooner, a British Sailing Royal Navy Frigate and a British Sidewheel Steam Naval Frigate - are all challenged by a tempestuous sea in this English Channel crossing scene. The British sailors work in unison to reef and employ sails on both frigates, running with the heavy, wind-driven sea towards Ramsgate, while the fore-and-aft rigged steam schooner burns her boilers while keeping her sails up to help stabilize the pitch and roll of the American ship, headed to continental Europe. Buttersworth has expertly detailed the actions of the men, their ships and the dramatic setting. Many other ships lay at anchorages off the Kent coast, showing from the Cliffs of Dover to the fortifications of Ramsgate.

This early visit by an American sail/steam vessel to England is remarkable. The first such transatlantic voyage happened in 1819, by the historic S.S. SAVANNAH, and it’d take almost 20 years to be repeated. Among the first names of American Steam Schooners to make British ports, ASP, HARRIET, and BRUTUS are among those recorded. MIDAS, a steam schooner owned by Robert Bennett Forbes, was the first American steamship to China, in 1844.

Showing a varied and illuminated sky that is recognized as a signature of Buttersworth’s artistic talent in his paintings, the stormy clouds are split by a sunburst opening, reflective light creating an emotional, positive hope for the subjects. The English Channel is at its narrowest width in this stretch off Kent, home to the Cinque Ports regulating trade and naval protection in the English Southeast for centuries. Buttersworth is soon bound for life in America, making this one of his last, and in our opinion, best British scenes painted in England.


Provenance: India House, New York.