Alexander Charles Stuart 
Full Rigged Ship GATHERER Scottish-American (1831-1898)

Oil on Canvas CIrca 1874
20 x 36 inches 31¼ x 47¼ Inches Framed
Signed LR: STUART  
   

Alexander Charles Stuart 
 
Scottish-American (1831-1898)
 
Full Rigged Ship GATHERER

Oil on Canvas CIrca 1874
20 x 36 inches 31¼ x 47¼ Inches Framed
Signed LR: STUART  
   

A stalwart American ship clearing the Delaware headed for Honolulu with a load of coal, this broadside ship portrait by Alexander Charles Stuart is of the Ship GATHERER. In her maiden year of service, the Bath, Maine-built Downeaster went to New Orleans with hay, took a load of cotton from there to Liverpool, and crossed to collect the coal in Philadelphia before heading to Hawaii. She’d make 8 Cape Horn voyages, averaging about 129 days, a profitable and fast sailing Downeaster, and yet still record one of the bloodiest voyages in merchant maritime history.

In this portrait, A.C. Stuart shows the large wooden vessel as built by Albert Hathorn, a 1,509 ton Downeaster especially constructed for the Cape Horn Trade. Measuring 208’1” x 40’2” x 24’3”, she’d sell to Jacob Jensen at San Francisco in 1888, serve 17 years on the Pacific rigged as a bark, and then transfer to New York interests to carry lumber from Puget Sound to New York in 1905, and become a towed barge, eventually lost off the coast of Virginia in 1909 with 2,400 tons of coal.

While her first captains, Joseph and George Thompson, earned GATHERER a good reputation as a fast sailer especially for such a large square-rigger, reaching 15½ knots and 350 miles a day from Honolulu back to the Columbia River in 1874, a voyage from Antwerp to Wilmington, California in 1881 would darken her name. Under Captain John Sparks and Chief Mate Charlie Watts the ship earned an unsavory reputation of “Hell Ship” and whispered title of “The Bloody Gatherer”, and eventually Watts six years in Folsom Prison for cruelty on the high seas. While the dark names stuck, she proved to be far more of a success than this one tragic voyage. Stuart has captured her early glory.


Provenance: Asa B. Allen Collection, Boston, Mass.