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What to look for in a painting by James Edward Buttersworth. — Blue Heron Fine Art Blog

What to look for in a painting by James Edward Buttersworth.

by Jim Puzinas on May 13, 2009

James E. Buttersworth (1817-1894), was a 19th century artist that many consider to be one of the finest American marine painters of his time. Paintings by Buttersworth have been treasured and collected by museums and collectors for many generations. Although some of his works may be purchased for less than $100K, strong examples of his most desirable paintings can be worth hundreds of thousands dollars. If you are considering acquiring a work by this artist, there are several factors to keep in mind.


The Gold Standard – Not just any yachting scene, but an America’s Cup yachting scene.

The gold standard for value can be seen in Buttersworth’s paintings of America’s Cup racing scenes, featuring  known yachts, against an identifiable location (such as New York Harbor or Sandy Hook). The painting must also be signed by the artist or have impeccable credentials attesting to its authenticity.


James E. Buttersworth (1817-1894) "America's Cup yacht, Magic" Oil on canvas. 14" x 22".

James E. Buttersworth (1817-1894) "America's Cup yacht, Magic", Oil on canvas. 14" x 22".


The painting highlighted above is close to the gold standard, but not quite. The painting features the America’s Cup yacht “Magic”, but the location of the scene is undetermined.  This painting was sold by our gallery several years ago and is now in the permanent collection of the Mystic Seaport Museum, Mystic, CT.



Highly Valuable – Any American yachting scene

Almost as valuable as Buttersworth’s America’s Cup scenes are his paintings involving racing yachts.  Although these paintings may not feature known America’s Cup boats, they nevertheless capture the drama and excitement of yacht racing.

It is estimated that Buttersworth painted more than 600 works over his long career, but clearly not all of them were racing scenes. Many works of British warships, shipwrecks, tugboats and steamers do exist, but do not have the value of his racing scenes.  If you are fortunate enough to be able to afford a Buttersworth painting, your best investment is one of his yacht racing scenes.

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