"THE WINNING YACHT"
(MADELEINE AND COUNTESS OF DUFFERIN)
oil on canvas, circa 1876, 40 x 32 inches,
signed lower left "Edward Moran"
Private Collection, Connecticut; descended in the family
to the current owner, Private Collection, Connecticut.
Edward Moran (1829-1901) was born in Bolton, Lancashire, England in 1829. At the age of fifteen, Moran immigrated with his family to the United States. He first studied landscape and marine painting in Philadelphia under Paul Weber and James Hamilton and later returned to England to study at the Royal Academy in London. In 1872 he moved to New York City, which would, except for a brief move to France in the late 1870s, thenceforth be his primary city of residence.
Throughout the 1860s Moran exhibited at venues in New York, Boston and Philadelphia. In New York, Moran painted the city’s harbor, then the busiest in the United States. New York Harbor provided him with inspiration for many paintings, with the port seen at different times of day and in a variety of weather conditions. He became known for his depictions of ships in stormy seas and was hired for private commissions by ship owners, captains and members of the New York Yacht Club.
The present canvas, The Winning Yacht: Madeleine and Countess of Dufferin depicts the third challenge of the 1876 America’s Cup race. The Countess Dufferin, a boat submitted by the Royal Canadian Yacht Club of Toronto, was to race the Madeleine in a three-race series. The Madeleine won the first race at the New York Yacht Club’s inner course and the second race at Sandy Hook, eliminating the need for the third race.
The present canvas likely portrays the first race. In the background, Moran depicted the other vessels in the race and the spectator steamboat. During the race, the Madeleine was leading at each buoy, here the boat can be identified by the New York Yacht Club burgee (a blue flag with a red cross and a white star at the center).
The Madeleine was a very successful vessel. In 1876 she was unanimously voted to represent the New York Yacht Club in the America’s Cup race. She was considered the fastest boat in the NYYC fleet, measuring 107 feet in length, overall with 23 feet, 9-inch beam and a draft of 18 feet, with her centerboard down. At the time of the race, the boat was owned by Captain John S. Dickerson. It had been designed by J. Voorhis and built by David Kirby of Rye, New York.
In 1888 Moran published “Hints for Practical Study of Marine Painting” in the Art Amateur. His most ambitious endeavor was the creation of thirteen works entitled The Edward Moran Series of Historical Paintings Representing Important Epochs in the Maritime History of the United States, which he completed in 1898. At the time of his death in 1901, it was written that “(…) and none [artists], perhaps, have surpassed him as a painter of marines. It is as a painter of seascapes, doubtless, that he will live in fame.”1
Moran’s work is represented in numerous public collections, including the Butler Institute of American Art, Chrysler Museum, National Museum of American Art, United States Naval Academy, Denver Art Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Boston Museum of Fine Art and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
1 Hugh W. Coleman, “Passing of a Famous Artist, Edward Moran,” (Brush and Pencil, vol. 8, no. 4, July 1901), p. 188.