This marine view depicts the coast near Lisbon, including the mouth of the River Tagus and the Belem tower (a 16th-century fortified tower, seen in the left background of this work) in the distance. This was a favourite subject of marine painter Thomas Buttersworth. Similar works by the artist are in Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery and in several private collections. The only work Buttersworth exhibited at the Royal Academy was titled ‘The Ville de Paris, Admiral Earl St Vincent, lying-to for a pilot off the mouth of the Tagus’. In addition, there are marine views of the same location painted by the artist’s son, James Edward Buttersworth (1817-1894), who trained under his father.
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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