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Silk Embroidered Hand Painted Seascape by Thomas Willis, circa 1890

US$4,800

About

19th century silk embroidered and hand painted oil on canvas seascape by Thomas Willis (1850 - 1925), depicting a schooner-rigged racing yacht closely hauled on a starboard tack, flying the American Ensign and Burgee of the New York Yacht Club, two crewmen visible on deck in bright uniforms, signed strongly in monogram in the lower right. The embroidery and painting remain in very good condition; the wool or velvet once likely used as the wave created under the bow and along the waterline is not present, leaving small areas with some paint loss. The silk itself is mostly still in very good condition; with only a little gentle wrinkling or "luffing" to the sails. The period frame is surely original and is also in very good, strong condition, but for some margin loss to the foot and luff of the jib (outer staysail) and a few lines down. While his work is well known, the circumstances of the artist himself are not widely known. Although currently listed as having been born in Connecticut, there is ample evidence that he was born in Denmark and emigrated to CT as a young man. There are pervasive rumor that he lied and worked in New York City for a silk importer or a manufacturer of embroidery thread, which lead to his unique art form; however, his style and technique was fully developed while still living in Europe. Rumors aside, it is well documented that he worked prolifically creating portraits of yachts and steamers on commission for members of the American, New York and Corinthian Yacht Clubs, as well as others. His earliest work tended to be on plain colored silk backgrounds; soon his work featured oil painting on canvas backgrounds, thought to originally have been done for him by friends such as the renown marine artist Antonio Jacobsen (who shared many of the same clients). It is believed that these artists taught Willis how to paint for himself, eventually becoming quite adept. As such, the painted backgrounds on Willis' work can vary from the still somewhat amateurish to the frankly sublime. Willis was somewhat haphazard in signing his work: some are signed by name in lower corner, some by initials only, some are signed on the reverse only, some bear paper labels on the reverse with name and a caution to keep out of direct sunlight, and many are not signed at all. He was however the only artist working in this unique medium and style, and his art is unmistakable and irrefutable. Measures: 15-1/2 in High x 23-1/2 in Wide Framed: 19-1/2 in High x 27-3/4 in Wide.

Details

  • Creator
    Thomas Willis (Artist)
  • Dimensions
    Height: 21 in. (53.34 cm)Width: 26.75 in. (67.95 cm)Depth: 2 in. (5.08 cm)
  • Style
    Late Victorian (Of the Period)
  • Materials and Techniques
  • Place of Origin
  • Period
  • Date of Manufacture
    circa 1890
  • Condition
    Wear consistent with age and use. Minor structural damages.
  • Seller Location
    Nantucket, MA
  • Reference Number
    Seller: AD - 271-78 WYIA1stDibs: LU903925406932

Shipping & Returns

  • Shipping
    Rates vary by destination and complexity.
    Ships From: Nantucket, MA
  • Return Policy

    A return for this item may be initiated within 3 days of delivery.

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About the Seller
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Located in Nantucket, MA
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