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James Edward Buttersworth (1817 - 1894)

Lot 314: James Edward Buttersworth (American, 1817-1894)


July 20, 2005
New York, NY, US

More About this Item


The American clipper ship Westward-Ho
signed 'J E Buttersworth' (lower right)
oil on canvas
29 1/4 x 36 in. (74.3 x 91.5 cm.)

Artist or Maker

James Edward Buttersworth (American, 1817-1894)


J. Schaefer, J.E. Buttersworth: 19th-Century Marine Painter, Mystic, Connecticut, 1975, plate VIII.


The celebrated 'extreme' clipper Westward Ho was designed and built by the famous Donald McKay at his East Boston yards and launched on 24th September 1852. Ordered by Sampson & Tappan of Boston for the California and Far Eastern trades, she was registered at 1,650 tons (American) and measured 220 feet in length with a 40= foot beam. Her superbly tailored lines were soon remarked upon wherever she went and although somewhat beamier than most of McKay's early vessels, her ends were extremely sharp and she carried practically no ornamentation except for her figurehead of a full-length native Indian warrior mounted upon a flowered pedestal.
Leaving Boston on 16th October 1852 under Captain Joseph P. Johnson, her maiden voyage was to San Francisco and she made port on 31st January 1853 after a good run of 107 days. From there she went to Manila in an exceptionally fast 39 days, and then back to New York - via Batavia - in a further 111 days, the complete circumnavigation of the globe being achieved in 8 months and 10 days including stop-overs. After a somewhat similar round trip in 1853-54, she recorded one of her best-ever runs in the winter of 1854-55 when she sailed from the Boston Light to San Francisco, a distance of 17,123 miles, in a remarkable 100 days and 18 hours during which she frequently logged 16 knots. From San Francisco, a slow passage to Hong Kong resulted in a distasteful charter to take Chinese labourers from Swatow to Callao (South America) to work the rich guano deposits. Although Captain Hussey had no trouble with his human cargo of 800 coolies, he was nevertheless glad to land them at Callao on 4th February 1856, returning to New York that same summer. The following year, under Captain Jones, she returned to Callao in ballast where she was sold to Don Juan de Ugarte of Lima who had been impressed with her the previous year and decided to purchase her as a coolie transport. After one trip from China to Havana, she thereafter operated exclusively on the run from China to Peru - still retaining her original name - until 1864 when, on 27th February, she caught fire and sank at her moorings in Callao as she was preparing to sail.

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Maritime Art

July 20, 2005, 12:00 AM EST

New York, NY, US