This marine view depicts a British man-of-war entering Portsmouth Harbour. Another tall ship is about to pass by the stern of the man-of-war, and several smaller vessels are also included, included two rowing boats.
A larger painting by Buttersworth, with an almost identical composition to this work was sold through Sotheby’s in London in 2011. However, the Sotheby’s painting shows the main man-of-war being towed into the harbour by a steam tug and includes some additional vessels in the distance.
Thomas Buttersworth was born in the Isle of Wight. He was a seaman painter, who enlisted aboard HM Enterprise in 1795 and was appointed a midshipman by 1800. That year he was invalided at Minorca and sent home. Little is known of his naval service, but the National Maritime Museum has a number of large watercolours by Buttersworth depicting the Battle of St Vincent (1797), which are executed in such a way as to suggest he was there. Although he was already painting, being invalided out of the Navy may have spurred him to become a professional artist. Despite being a prolific painter, he exhibited only one work at the Royal Academy in 1813 and one at the British Institution in 1825. He is thought to have died in London in November 1842.
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