James E. Buttersworth 
The Clipper Memnon Under Tow
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American (1817-1894)

Oil on Canvas Circa 1860
14 x 22 Inches
Signed LR: J.E. Buttersworth  
   

James E. Buttersworth 
 
American (1817-1894)
 
The Clipper Memnon Under Tow
⚈ Sold

Oil on Canvas Circa 1860
14 x 22 Inches
Signed LR: J.E. Buttersworth  
   

Working its way to a mooring in upper New York Bay, the American clipper MEMNON is being towed by one of the harbor’s steam tugs. On a parallel reach are two sloops to starboard while another runs with the wind off MEMNON’s port bow. The clue to the clipper's identification is provided by the prominent house flag of F.A. Delano worn at her main top. She was the only clipper ship owned by this firm.

The MEMNON was one of the earliest vessels to be designated a clipper. Designed by John Griffiths in 1847 and built by the Smith & Dimon yard in New York, MEMNON carries the same pedigree as the early clippers SEA WITCH and RAINBOW by the same designer and builder. In 1850, at the opening of the clipper era, she was the very first flyer to be sent from an east coast port to California, cutting the passage time from 6 months to 122 days.

Believed to be a view of the docks of the Brooklyn shore at the mouth of the East River, the budding city scape with church spires and at least seven square-riggers at anchor create a majestic backdrop for the approaching vessels. Here Buttersworth uses slight tonal contrasts to add visual impact to ships, sky and sea. Note the delicate illumination upon the gray-washed clouds and fine white-lined wave crests. The shadows cast by both compliment the color depth of MEMNON’s hull.