James E. Buttersworth was born in 1817 in Middlesex County, England to a family of marine artists. After producing brilliant paintings of principally British sailing ships at a young age, Buttersworth moved with his wife and family to the United States around 1845 and acquired an admiring following for his paintings of American ships and yachts. His work incorporated scrupulous and authentic detail, both of the boats and their settings. His skill at portraying the beautiful shapes of wind-filled sails, and the feeling of a sailboat moving through the water, has never been equaled.
Enticed by Prince Albert’s Great Exposition at the Crystal Palace, James Buttersworth returned to England for the season of 1851, focusing on events at Cowes, Isle of Wight that led to the August 22nd Race for the Hundred Pound Cup, won by AMERICA. Buttersworth’s sketches and paintings of that yachting competition provide the definitive record of events in that benchmark season of sailing.
During the twenty-four year period of America’s Cup racing from 1870 through 1893, there were eight seasons of racing. 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.