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The Schooner Yacht "America"

1851
Origin: America, New York, New York
Unframed): 41 7/8 x 62 3/8in. (106.4 x 158.4cm) and Framed: 43 3/4 x 64 1/4in. (111.1 x 163.2cm)
Oil on canvas with penciled details
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1968.111.1
A two-masted schooner yacht sails from R to L through choppy water, heeling slightly toward the viewer in the picture plane. Distant land is visible at far L, and a small sailing vessel is apparent at far R in the distance. Four hands are visible on deck. Sails stiff, flags flying in breeze. The composition is painted within an oval format, with blue-green oil paint covering the canvas's spandrels.

The 1 1/4-inch gilded and gold-painted molded frame is original, including a gold-painted oval insert decorated with netting and applied plaster ornament of scrollwork.
Label:The first international yacht exposition was launched in England in 1851, marking the first formal racing competition between British and American vessels. On August 22 of that year, the schooner America became the first winner in the fifty-three mile contest around England’s Isle of Wight. To mark the occasion, the Royal Yacht Squadron’s trophy was thereafter known as the America’s Cup.

Weighing in at 179 tons, the America was built in the spring of 1851 to the design specifications of Manhattan shipbuilder George Steers and financed by a syndicate under the leadership of John Cox Stevens, one of the founders of the New York Yacht Club. Following her racing career, the schooner sailed for both the North and the South during the Civil War. She was then presented to the United States Naval Academy in 1921 and served the Navy until an accident lead to her demise during World War II.




Provenance:The painting is said to have been executed for John Cox Stevens and, later, to have hung aboard a yacht owned by General Butler Ames (b. 1871), a grandson of General Benjamin Franklin Butler (1818-1893), who purchased the actual yacht "America" after the Civil War; Vose Galleries, Boston, Mass.
Inscription(s):"AMERICA" is painted on the yacht's burgee. Painted in script in the lower left spandrel of the canvas is "George Steers, Builder, N.Y. 1851," and in the lower right spandrel is "Picture Painted by James Bard NY./686 Washington St." These last two inscriptions are hidden by the painting's oval frame.