19th C. Silk Embroidered and Hand Painted Seascape by Thomas Willis (1850 – 1925)

19th C. Silk Embroidered and Hand Painted Seascape by Thomas Willis (1850 – 1925)

$6,800.00

19th Century Silk Embroidered and Hand Painted Oil on Canvas Seascape by Thomas Willis (1850 – 1925), depicting the schooner-rigged racing yacht MARION WENTWORTH with all sails set, closely hauled on a starboard tack, flying the Boston Yacht Club burgee, owner’s flag, and an American yacht ensign, with five crewmen visible on deck and another aloft.

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SKU: AD - 277-65 HVEY
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19th Century Silk Embroidered and Hand Painted Oil on Canvas Seascape by Thomas Willis (1850 – 1925), depicting the schooner-rigged racing yacht MARION WENTWORTH with all sails set, closely hauled on a starboard tack, flying the Boston Yacht Club burgee, owner’s flag, and an American yacht ensign, with five crewmen visible on deck and another aloft.

The sails, hull and rigging are of silk that has been hand-stitched through the canvas backing. The background seascape was likely painted by Willis himself (others were sometimes painted by friends such as Antonio Jacobsen), and has a bow wave and wake made from bunched silk threads applied along the waterline.

The yacht MARION WENTWORTH was owned by Thomas W. Pierce of Boston, and sailed under a Capt. Chatfield. The gaff-rigged schooner was likely built in Essex, Mass and was named after the owner’s sister.

The embroidery and painting remain in very good condition. The silk itself also remains in very good condition. The period frame is surely original and is also in very good, strong condition, with only a minuscule loss of gesso in spots.

While his work is well known, the circumstances of the artist himself are not widely known. Although currently listed as having been born in Connecticut, there is ample evidence that he was born in Denmark and emigrated to CT as a young man. There are pervasive rumors that he lied and worked in New York City for a silk importer or a manufacturer of embroidery thread, which lead to his unique art form; however, his style and technique was fully developed while still living in Europe. Rumors aside, it is well documented that he worked prolifically creating portraits of yachts and steamers on commission for members of the American, New York and Corinthian Yacht Clubs, as well as others. His earliest work tended to be on plain colored silk backgrounds; soon his work featured oil painting on canvas backgrounds, thought to originally have been done for him by friends such as the renown marine artist Antonio Jacobsen (who shared many of the same clients). It is believed that these artists taught Willis how to paint for himself, eventually becoming quite adept. As such, the painted backgrounds on Willis’ work can vary from the still somewhat amateurish to the frankly sublime.

Willis was somewhat haphazard in signing his work: some are signed by name in lower corner, some by initials only, some are signed on the reverse only, some bear paper labels on the reverse with name and a caution to keep out of direct sunlight, and many are not signed at all. He was however the only artist working in this unique medium and style, and his art is unmistakable and irrefutable.

Measures: 17-1/4 in High x 23-1/4 in Wide
Framed: 23-1/2 in High x 29-3/4 in Wide.

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