Oil on canvas, depicting the American ship Pennsylvania coming into Liverpool, signed and dated lower right: "S. Walters 1836". This painting is one of the great early Walters depicting an American ship. The hull is painted with great precision. The billethead and trailboards are painted with remarkable crispness. The nameboard just after the billet is also exceptionally crisp. The hull has a yellow painted band below three white narrow decorative stripes. There are several crew members scattered around the deck. There is a small vessel with the main sail furled, off loading a pilot onto the Pennsylvania. The ship is flying her signal flags from the foremast, her house flag from the main mast and the American flag off the gaff. Just below the tip of the bowsprit is a crisp rendering of the Perch Rock Lighthouse and to the left is the fort. Sailing between the lighthouse and fort is a second stern rendering of the Pennsylvania flying the same flag arrangement. There are several other vessels painted along the horizon. Towards the left in the corner is a buoy and to the right a gull hovering over a piece of driftwood. The water is beautifully painted and has white highlights along the crest of the waves. The sky has a luminous appearance with puffy white clouds with subtle purple and pink highlights.
Accompanying the Walters painting is a fine period portrait of Captain John P. Smith. The portrait is professionally painted and depicts Captain Smith in formal attire in a seated position. The portraiture was painted around the same period as the ship painting done by Walters. It is rare to have both the painting of the captain and a second of his ship, and of particular interest, the captain had such an untimely death attempting to save his vessel.
Condition of portrait: The painting was recently cleaned and has a few minor spects of scattered in-paint. There is no in-paint on his face.
Condition of ship painting: The painting was lined many years ago and retains its original stretcher. There are a few scattered areas of in-paint in the sky with a 3 inch by 2 inch area of in-paint above the bowsprit. The vessel, lighthouse and fort are untouched. Condition of portrait frame: The frame is original to the picture and has been recently restored.
Condition of the Walter's frame: The painting retains the original gold leaf frame and liner. The frame has a wonderful patina and is in good original condition.
Reference 1: Albion, Robert Greenhalgh, "Square-Riggers on Schedule The New York Sailing Packets to England, France and the Cotton Ports", Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1938, pp. 209-210; 227, 278-279. The greatest loss to the American Merchant Fleet occurred early in January 1839 with the Liverpool hurricane. Captain John P. Smith drowned attempting to save his vessel.
Reference 2: Davidson, A.S. "Samuel Walters - Marine Artist Fifty years of Sea, Sail & Steam", Great Britain: Jones-Sands Publishing, 1992, pp. 147-148. These pages describe the Great Hurricane of 1839 as well as illustrating a painting by Walters which depicts the Pennsylvania and other vessels in the storm. Provenance: The painting came from a New Jersey estate and descended in the family of Captain John P. Smith. The two paintings have always been together.
Dimensions of Walters painting: 28 x 42.
Dimensions of portrait painting: 30 x 25.
Dimensions of Walters frame: 38 3/4 x 52 3/4.