Painted in 1996 by marine historian, boatbuilder and artist Paul Stubing, this well-researched watercolor shows a Friendship sloop, commonly called a sloop-boat by most fishermen, off the shore of Eagle Island in the Penobscot Bay about 1898. A lobsterman is hauling a trap from a peapod just behind the sloop-boat. There is a mackerel schooner riding to the wind with her mainsail up in the background, loading herring from a dory that took it from a herring weir. Paul Stubing described the painting:
It is unlikely that Snow, born in 1857, saw this scene in Searsport in 1918, after the days of Searsport shipbuilding were well in the past, although buildings may well have still been in place. By then some yards were active in towns like Belfast, Camden and Rockland but the days of building coasting schooners were gone.
Here the artist shows the schooner partially planked. Smoke comes from a building that could have housed a steam powered saw. Men work at a crane in the foreground which is piled with the usual raw timber that was the stock of the yard.
Busy port scenes were a favorite subject for James Buttersworth. Here, he portrays a classic New York harbor view. On shore, to the left, is Castle Garden (immigration headquarters before Ellis Island) and Fort Williams on Governor's Island from which a salute is being fired. In the midst of a yacht race, a ship of the line is being towed into the harbor. A racing sloop with a prominent owner’s flag, probably belonging to Buttersworth’s paying or potential customer, dominates the foreground. Signed, lower right.
William Parr, who later became partners with Robert Bagott, owned these vessels, including the center ship and the brigs Betsy to the left and Phoenix on the right. The world was a dangerous place in 1809, when French and Spanish privateers and naval vessels roamed, ready to snap up unprepared merchant ships. Indeed, Betsy had been taken from the French.
Here, Buttersworth portrays the mix of shipping traffic along the English Channel near the coast in a scene evocative of earlier Dutch paintings. The Dutch sloop, also reminiscent of an earlier era, is juxtaposed with an early steam vessel with auxiliary sails. The lug-rigged open boat on the left is in the French or British style, locating the scene perhaps on the Flemish coast or in the Thames estuary. The effect is a stunning picture. At first glance, it could be from the mid-1700s, yet in fact was painted 50-75 years after that.
It’s blowing hard enough for the little lug-rigged boat on the right to be deeply reefed with her mizzen furled. She may be a small pilot boat of the type common in the Thames estuary. The main subject, a ship-rigged vessel, has single-reefed her topsails. Her crew is furling the mainsail, while others sheet home the jib.
Percy Sanborn shows two three-masted schooners, one headed up Penobscot bay, the other down on a breezy day. In the foreground two fishermen hand line from a dory while Blue Hill shows up in the background.
The Belle of Bath was launched in May, 1877 in Bath, Maine, by Goss & Sawyer; 1418 tons; length 203.9 ft, beam 39 ft., depth 24.3 ft. She was built for Parker M. Whitmore et al. and sold to Searsport parties in 1883 for $47,500. She was destroyed by fire in June, 1897, while bound from New York to Hong Kong loaded with case oil (kerosene). The Belle of Bath was captained by William G. Nichols and Henry G. Curtis of Searsport. This painting, done by an unknown Chinese artist, was given to Penobscot Marine Museum by the Nichols family.
Under the command of Capt. Daniel C.Nichols of Searsport, in Hong Kong Harbor, near the end of her sailing life. The painting originally had one mast placed incorrectly. The captain had the artist correct it, but the reflection in the water was not painted out. The picture shows four reflections for three masts.
It's likely that the Japanese artist who created this had bodies ready on which all was needed was a head portrait of the buyer. Searsport's Captain Frank I. Pendleton (1848-1915) had his family with him on this voyage, and similar scrolls were painted of them, but not as samurai.