2020 Fine Sporting Art, American Paintings, and Sculpture

165| Richard M. Firth (British, b. 1971)

Vigilant In British Waters Off Cowes With Britannia And Satanita 1894



Oil on canvas, 14" x 21"

$12000. - $18000.


The year 1893 was a vintage year of yacht building in Great Britain. Forming the Big Five were Santanita, Britannia, Calluna, Iverna, and Valkyrie II, which met in numerous cup races that summer. By the end of the yachting season that year, the stage was set for 1894. Vigilant, a magnificent cutter and an immensely powerful boat, was scheduled to become the first America?s Cup defender to sail in Europe for the British yachting season, meeting with three of the aforementioned vessels at Hunter?s Quay on the Firth of Clyde, Scotland. Britannia, arguably history?s most famous cutting ship, was commissioned by Prince Albert after an encounter with Kaiser Wilhelm II?s cutter, Thistle. Designed by George Lennox Watson and built alongside Valkyrie II, Brittania won 231 races and took 129 flags. She passed through multiple owners until King George V bought and refitted her. In accordance to George V?s wishes, once the king had passed, she was stripped of her spars and fittings then scuttled. The scuttling of Britannia marked the end of an era in big yacht racing in Europe, as the more affordable international-rule 12-meter class became preferable. Santanita, designed by Joseph Manston Super for A. D. Clarke, was destined to become the most talked-about cutter of 1894. At the beginning of the Glasgow?s Mudhook Regatta, she struck Valkyrie II. While all the affluent passengers aboard Valkyrie were rescued, 15 hands were sent overboard and one member of the crew later succumbed to internal injuries sustained during the collision. With the previously scheduled meet at Hunter?s Quay now rendered impossible by the demise of Valkyrie II, the three surviving ships would go head-to-head in British waters on the Solent off the Isle of Wight instead.

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