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The Clipper Ship "Flying Cloud" off the Needles, Isle of Wight, 1859-1860

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.


Early life and education

Buttersworth was born in the 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)

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