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Thomas Buttersworth
English (1768-1837)

H.M.S. Shannon Boards U.S.S. Chesapeake off Boston
Famous Naval Battle of 1813

This historic depiction of the Battle of Boston Harbor illuminates one of the most famous sea battles in both American and British Naval history. On the afternoon of June 1, 1813 the U.S.S. CHESAPEAKE sailed out of Boston to meet the challenge of the waiting H.M.S. SHANNON.

Although a British victory, by a supreme irony, the Americans would emerge from the defeat with the greater benefit. For it was in this battle that the gallant young American Commander James Lawrence spoke the immortal words "Don't Give Up The Ship" as he lay mortally wounded on CHESAPEAKE’s deck. This famous phrase infused the fledgling U.S. Navy with an even more vigorous determination to fight and win.

The battle was brief but intense. In about fifteen minutes, 252 men were killed or wounded between the two sides, a large number of casualties for such a conflict. Though the ships were evenly matched, CHESAPEAKE’s crew was primarily made up of men new to the ship, who, while themselves well trained, had had little time to drill together or with Captain Lawrence, also new to the ship. In contrast, SHANNON’s Commander, Sir Philip Bowes Vere Broke, was an expert in naval gunnery who had modified his cannons for greater aim and maneuverability and then spent a long voyage with his crew training them to fire on key targets to quickly disable opposing ships.

CHESAPEAKE took more serious hits in their early exchanges of cannon fire, the fatal blow being the loss of her ship’s wheel. With no way to maneuver, the wind and waves carried CHESAPEAKE into SHANNON’s starboard side where she took another barrage of heavy fire before the British crew lashed the two ships together. When the smoke cleared, Broke gave the command to board CHESAPEAKE.

After taking relentless fire across his decks, Captain Lawrence remained the only officer on CHESAPEAKE’s quarterdeck, his lieutenants wounded below. Lawrence also gave the order to board, and it is this moment where the two crews met in pitched hand to hand combat that Buttersworth has so brilliantly depicted here.

Figures line the decks of each ship, trading musket fire as the cannon flash below. Sailors climb the tangle of fallen rigging to reach their opponents, swords raised in the charge. The fading light of day illuminates both ships, damaged but still deep in the fight, neither ready to give way.

Detail is outstanding, but it is the drama of the conflict that Buttersworth so skillfully portrays. The cannon smoke surrounds the ships, but off to the right it clears to show us Boston Harbor busy with trade- capturing the essence of America’s freedoms won just a few decades before. It was America’s desire for self-determination as a nation and continued independence from Britain that led to the conflict here.

The white flag shown on CHESAPEAKE is historically accurate, though not as a symbol of surrender. CHESAPEAKE was known to have left harbor flying a large white flag at the foremast inscribed “Free Trade and Sailor's Rights” – representing America’s main grievances in the War of 1812.

By all accounts both sides fought bravely and with distinction. Lawrence was hit in the first wave of fire by the British coming aboard, and it was while members of his crew carried him below that he would give the infamous order, "Tell the men to fire faster! Don't give up the ship!"

Lawrence’s last command to his crew became a rallying cry for the American Navy throughout the war. Later, Lawrence’s peer, Captain Oliver Hazard Perry would take his friend’s words and emblazon them on his battle flag, winning the day at the Battle of Lake Erie, a significant turning point to the overall American victory. The motto has inspired U.S. Naval sailors from that time until today and Perry’s original flag is on display at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

Captain Broke led the charge onto CHESAPEAKE and in the battle to follow would also sustain a serious injury and, while he survived and went on to receive many honors for this victory, he would never again serve at sea.

A brilliant portrait of one of the most important naval actions ever fought, this painting embodies the fighting spirit of the great naval sailors of history.

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Chinese School
Chinese (1775-1900)

Hong Kong Circa 1855

This view of Victoria Peak and the Harbor below, depicts the busy international trade in Hong Kong after the British gained control of the port in 1842. Given the presence of the flag tower atop Victoria Peak, this was painted a few years afterward, circa 1855. This and the rise of the buildings up the vertical elevation of Victoria Peak help estimate the date of the painting.

Demand for tea, spices, silks, and Chinese silver helped establish some of the largest Western and Eastern fortunes of their day. Here, a variety of steam and sailing vessels fill the harbor including a rare number of American ships: a sidewheel steamer, a steam-sail side wheeler, and a bark at anchor. Other ships include older British ships, likely being used for storage in the harbor, and a Dutch full rigged ship with sails aloft. Several local vessels travel between the foreign ships, including fishing and merchant ships along with a group of colorful Chinese junks off to the right with red banners flying, fierce eyes painted on their bows.

Behind the harbor, Hong warehouses of the United States and France are seen along the shoreline with the multistoried British offices in the grove at the base of the peak. Further left is the four pointed tower of St. John's Cathedral, still standing today. Off to the right the view expands to show the mountains extending into Guangzhou (Canton) and Guangdong province.

Sharp details rise into a subtle depiction of the sky, with excellent contrast and warm luminous touches in the clouds. Paintings like this, which depict the important Chinese harbors and the ships which visited them throughout the 19th century, are desired for both their aesthetic beauty and historical record of Hong Kong's growth and change over the centuries.

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Montague Dawson
British (1895-1973)

A Cruising Racer, Bristol Channel Cutters Racing Off Falmouth

Bristol Channel Cutters race in a fair wind in this striking work by master maritime artist Montague Dawson. These are likely racing off Falmouth in Cornwall, where they first became popular as yachts. A versatile racing and cruising design, Bristol Channel cutters were based off the early Bristol Channel pilot cutters.

Records dating back to around 1795 show the earliest Bristol Channel pilot cutters were based on single-masted fishing cutters modified for the difficult conditions of the Bristol Channel, where strong tides, winds, currents and the coastline make it one of the most naturally dangerous shipping lanes in the world.

Considered the best sailing boat design made in the Age of Sail, Bristol Channel Cutters could sail at high speed with excellent maneuverability and yet were easy to handle by just two crew.

The Pilot Cutters carried local maritime pilots to and from large ships guiding them safely into ports. The speed and maneuverability of the cutters allowed their crew, in almost any weather, to quickly arrive at and easily lie alongside larger ships for easy and safe transfer of their pilots. Speed was key to success as pilots competed with each other to reach ships first.

When not racing each other for business, pilot cutter captains would take place in port-based "reviews", which were a local mixture of parading and open challenge-based racing. When in windy conditions, cutters would regularly win these open races against professional racing crews, when with full sails on they would reach speeds in excess of 10 knots. As the age of sail came to an end, and steam vessels took over the pilots, many of the Bristol Channel Cutters were sold to buyers who wanted them as private yachts and the last pilot cutters retired in the early 1920s. However, yachts are still made to similar designs today, a testament to their excellence in design.

Yachting scenes are among Dawson's most sought after works. With an active sea, brilliant sky and the close view of the sailors in the main cutter, this example has key aspects which are most desired by collectors of Dawson's works, making this one of the best we have seen.

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Montague Dawson
British (1895-1973)

Nearing Home, The HELICON

Bright and magnificent, the Ship HELICON slices on a quick reach in this maritime merchant ship portrait with its remarkable realism in his signature loose stroke. The sailing ship carries a proper spread of canvas for the existing wind, and Montague Dawson portrays numerous sailors active on her deck and in the rigging. Her white hull glistens, and shows some of the inevitable rust of a hard-working steel-and-iron hull ship. The ocean is alive with movement beneath the ship.

HELICON was built by Charles Connell & Co. of Glasgow to order for German owners Bernard Wencke & Son in 1887. She measured 230'6" Length with a 38'4" Beam, and weighed in at 1613 net tons. Connell & Co. had launched a near-identical sister ship to HELICON the year prior, the historic vessel BALCLUTHA, which is now a famous museum ship based in San Francisco.

After Wencke purchased the British STAR OF THE SEA in 1884, they renamed that ship HELICON. Loaded with 2000 tons of railroad tracks, the ship departed Hull on Feb. 2, 1886, bound for Sydney. She was never seen again. In memory, the Wencke firm named their newest ship HELICON, and it served the company on voyages to Australia, Chile and Africa for years, selling to Spanish interests in 1920. The ship served nine more years as VIUDA LLUSA, until broken up in 1929. Dawson may have known this ship early as an artist, and revisited the subject later in his career to produce this painting.

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William Edgar
Australian-American (1870 -c. 1918)

Barkentine THOMAS P. EMIGH
with Photos and Ephemera

Reaching under full sail, including a jib-headed “kicker” topsail on the Jigger mast, the white-hulled barkentine THOMAS P. EMIGH is depicted approaching what appears to be the headland near Byron’s Bay, Australia. The EMIGH engaged primarily in the Pacific lumber trade and Byron’s Bay was one of Australia’s foremost timber ports. Byron Point lighthouse, which marks the easternmost point on the Australian continent, is visible on its promontory high in the mist in the far distance. A tug, a steamer and a schooner are shown off the harbor entrance, under the EMIGH’s bowsprit.

Launched at Tacoma in 1902, the 1040 ton THOS P. EMIGH was owned and operated by the Charles Nelson Shipping Company of Oakland whose house flag is shown at the truck of the mainmast. Her correct signal letters K.R.L.Q. are displayed beneath the American ensign at the top of the Jigger mast. At 211.6’L x 42.4’B x 16.4’D, the EMIGH was the largest vessel built by the legendary Northern California shipbuilder Thomas Petersen.

William Edgar ship portraits are stunning in their realism and attention to nautical detail. His realistic seas capture the offshore blues and greens found only in deep offshore waters and his skies are abundant with nautical atmosphere. This portrait of the THOMAS P. EMIGH shows her sailing with every sail in the inventory full and drawing, parting the waves with a prominent “bone in her teeth.”

The painting is accompanied by photos of the ship launching and on deck scenes of the captain and his family as well as a letter from the captain to his wife. These items were handed down through the family of the ship’s part owner and master, M.A. Ipsen.

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Anton Otto Fischer
German-American (1882-1962)

The Dreadnought Battleship U.S.S. WYOMING of 1911

Showcasing the strength and power of the formidable battleships known as Dreadnoughts, Anton Otto Fischer portrays USS WYOMING dramatically crashing through heavy swells while underway in stormy seas. Passing to port on a reciprocal course to windward, a large three-masted schooner works, hull down, in the confused sea state. Fischer beautifully illustrates the drama of heavy weather and its nearly minimal effect on one of America’s most revered capital ships.

USS WYOMING (BB32) was the first of two battleships that would make up the Wyoming class of warship. At a length of 562’ with a 93’ beam and a draft of 28’6”, the 27,000 ton WYOMING and her sister USS ARKANSAS were the fourth Dreadnought design built for the United States Navy. WYOMING was laid down in February 1910 at the Cramp and Sons yard in Philadelphia, was launched in May 1911, and finally completed in September 1912. She was armed with a main battery of twelve 12-inch (305 mm) guns and capable of a top speed of 20.5 knots (23.6 mph).

WYOMING served proudly as part of US Battleship Division 9 during WWI, which became the Sixth Battle Squadron of the British Grand Fleet while active in British waters. After the war, she became one of the first units of the newly designated Pacific Fleet and was home ported in both San Diego and San Pedro, conducting exercises off the California coast. During this period, future Fleet Admiral William F. Halsey served as the battleship’s executive officer.

During WWII, WYOMING served with distinction as a gunnery ship attached to the United States Naval Academy, training some 35,000 midshipmen as gunnery officers. Wyoming was decommissioned in 1947 and her name struck from the Navy list. Her hulk was sold for scrap and she was broken up at New York in December 1947.

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