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 James Edward Buttersworth  (1817 - 1894)

About: James Edward Buttersworth


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Lived/Active: New Jersey/New York      Known for: marine, landscape and ship painting, illustration

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BIOGRAPHY for James Buttersworth
1817 (Middlesex County, England)
1894 (West Hoboken, New Jersey)

New Jersey/New York

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marine, landscape and ship painting, illustration

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Known for marine paintings from subjects he observed in the waters off New York, James Buttersworth lived long enough to depict the early steamship era.  His career spanning sixty years was dedicated to portraits of all types of ships at sea such as racing clipper ships, steamers, and yachts.  Nearly 600 of his paintings have been found, and his contribution in preserving this colorful chapter in American history is profound.

His special skill was portraying the majesty, grace, and movement of sailing vessels, and viewers have a strong sense of being pulled along because of the curves and flow he conveyed in his wind-filled sails.

He applied paint thinly, primarily in oil, and used a variety of grounds including canvas, milkboard, wood panels, and metal.  A meticulous draftsman, Buttersworth had an eye for exact detail, and painted clipper ships and great sailing yachts as well as historical conflicts with battleships.  The paintings are usually made dramatic by stormy skies and churning ocean waves.

He was born in Middlesex County, England, and it is thought that his grandfather was Thomas Buttersworth, 1768-1828, and his father Thomas Buttersworth, Jr, 1797-1842, both renowned marine painters.  Although his heritage is unproven, it is obvious James Buttersworth was well schooled in the tradition of English marine painting.

Between 1845 and 1847, he emigrated to the United States and settled in Hoboken, New Jersey, and little is known of him before that time.  He brought many of his paintings with him from England to sell, and Currier and Ives company purchased some of them to convert into lithographs.  He benefited from the wide exposure this association gave his work.

Another break came when he exhibited and sold paintings through the American Art Union from 1850 to 1852 in New York City, and, as a result, was commissioned to make a series of drawings for the yacht race of 1851 in England.

He supported a large family and lived in West Hoboken, New Jersey with a view of the New York harbor. He prowled the water in a small boat, which is obvious because his perspectives are that of being on the water.

Sources include:
American Art Review and Magazine Antiques

Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, III:
James Edward Buttersworth (1817–1894) was an English painter who specialized in maritime art, and is considered among the foremost American ship portraitists of the nineteenth century.[1] His paintings are particularly known for their meticulous detail, dramatic settings, and grace in movement.

Buttersworth was born in London, England in 1817, to a family of maritime artists, and studied painting with his father, Thomas Buttersworth Jr., who was also noted for the genre.

He moved to the United States around 1845, and settled in West Hoboken, New Jersey (now Union City, New Jersey),[2] and also maintained a Brooklyn studio in 1854. He returned to England in 1851 for the Race for the Hundred Pound Cup that took place on 22 August 1851. His sketches and paintings of that yachting competition provide the definitive record of events in that benchmark season of sailing.

Buttersworth’s paintings of the 1893 Vigilant vs. Valkyrie II Cup match, done one year before his death, completed the chronicling of America's Cup races by oil painting just before the advent of successful photographic imagery. He was inducted into the America's Cup Hall of Fame in 1999. About 600 of his pieces survive today, which are found in private collections and museums all over the United States, including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Virginia, and have also been featured on the television series Antiques Roadshow.[3]

1. ^ James E. Butterworth at
2. ^ Halasz, Piri. "Art: Maritime Theme at Exhibitions; Appeal of Nostalgia History and Humor Portraits of Vessels", The New York Times, January 21, 1973. "James Butterworth (1817-1894), whose work is on view in Trenton, was an Englishman born on the Isle of Wight. By the time he emigrated and settled in West Hoboken (now Union City), America was in the heyday of its gallant clipper ships."
3. ^ The Union City Reporter; January 2006
• "Ship, Sea and Sky: The Marine Art of James Edward Buttersworth." American Heritage, July-August 1994 v45 n4 p104(1)

Source: Wikipedia

Biography from Roger King Fine Art, A - G:
James Buttersworth was born in Middlesex County, England.  He is presumed to be the son of painter Thomas Buttersworth (1768-1842), though little is known about him before he emigrated to the United States. 

He settled in West Hoboken, New Jersey about 1850 and enjoyed a flourishing career as a marine painter.  New York Harbor provided the background for a great number of his works.  He went to work for Nathaniel Currier in 1847, and when the firm later became Currier and Ives, many of his paintings were made into prints.

From 1850 to 1852 he sold his work through the American Art Union in New York. His career spanned sixty years, and about 600 of his paintings have been recorded.  He painted America's Cup races as well as warships and historic naval actions, and all types of vessels from racing clipper ships and yachts to steamers. He was particularly adept at capturing the grace, majesty and movement of sailing vessels, frequently portraying them from the diagonal and thus underscoring the sense of rapid movement.

Using primarily oil paint, he applied in thinly to the ground, which was usually canvas but also occasionally millboard, wood panel, or metal.  He had an eye for meticulous detail and he portrayed ships with great accuracy, but he also achieved a Romantic sense of drama with the use of low horizon lines, stormy skies, and tempestuous water.

Biography from VALLEJO GALLERY, LLC, Marine Art Specialists:
Born in 1817 in Middlesex County, Great Britain, James Edward
Buttersworth was the son of important English sea painter, Thomas
Buttersworth.  Settling in New York in 1845, he soon established
himself as an American marine artist.

During the next period of his life, many of his works were chosen by Currier & Ives as subjects for lithographs.  His images were also used in magazines
and newspapers that reported the yachting events of the day.  New
York Harbor and the surrounding areas became a favorite background for
his vessels which he portrayed faithfully with an eye for precise
detail.  His reputation grew for accurate representations of the
great sailing yachts and clipper ships of his time.

In order to accent the speed and grace of these vessels, he would often elongate
the hulls and sails to create a feeling of motion portrayed along a low
horizon line.  Romanticizing sailing ships, he created dramatic
skies, churning seas and accurate detail.

See other available artworks by James E. Buttersworth at the following url:

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