The celebrated racing yawl Julia, R.Y.S. signed 'Wm Clark' and dated 1859 (lower left) oil on canvas 62 x 90.5cm (24 7/16 x 35 5/8in).
PROVENANCE : Bought at the sale of Cross House, Little Torrington, N. Devon c. 100-150 years ago by George Bond, great grandfather of the present owner (by family repute) By family descent to the present owner.
LITERATURE : A.S.Davidson, Marine Art & the Clyde, (Upton, 2000), pp 208-209.
The Greenock Advertiser 'Fine Arts' review of February the 21st. 1860, refers to this picture - 'A very fine picture of this beautiful vessel, which carried the flag of the late Vice-Commodore of the Royal Northern Yacht Club, has just left the easel of our townsman Mr. William Clark. She is represented as cruising off the Isle of Skye, the precipitous cliffs near the entrance to Loch Bracadale being seen on the right of the picture. The yacht is under single reefed mainsail, second jib, foresail and jigger, close-hauled, and is evidently going at the pace which has made the Julia famous among yachters. In the distance are two coasting craft, one of which is running with a free sheet for the mouth of Lord Bracadale. The picture is painted with unusual care and fidelity, every detail being wrought with accuracy and vividness without destroying the general artistic effect of the picture. It is decidedly the most successful work of the kind ever executed by Mr. Clark, and we trust that it may be exhibited here for a few days prior to its being despatched to Glasgow. The picture was ordered by Commander Sicklemore, R.N., for the late Mr. Houldsworth, and will form one of the attractions of the fine gallery of modern paintings collected by that munificent patron of the fine arts.'
In this painting, Julia is shown flying the blue ensign of the Royal Northern Yacht Club, but John Houldsworth (Julia's owner) was also a member of the R.Y.S. and so entitled to wear the more prestigious white ensign. Owners of these yachts were often members of several "Royal" clubs. When cruising away from home base, as in this instance, they would, out of courtesy, wear the colours of their local club while in Scottish waters.
Built by Ratsey at Cowes for Mr. William Peareth, Julia was originally launched as a 111-ton cutter and won the Squadron Cup at Cowes in her maiden season in 1853 beating, amongst others, the legendary Arrow as well as the much-fancied American visitor Sylvie. Having already won her class in the Royal London's regatta that same May (1853), her career was thereby off to a flying start and the next year she took on Arrow again for Prince Albert's Cup at Cowes; even though she lost on this occasion, it was a memorable race and the talk of the regatta that year. After the close of the 1856 season, Peareth sold Julia to Mr. John Houldsworth, a wealthy Scottish cotton baron, who had her converted to a yawl ready for the start of the 1857 season. Following three successful seasons, Julia was sold again after Houldsworth's death in October 1859 and bought by Mr. J.B. Hesketh who also only kept her for a couple of years during which she came second in the prestigious Ocean Race (from Ryde to Plymouth) in August 1862. Passing through the hands of two more owners Mr. G. Fielder and Mr. G.F. Moss - in quick succession, Julia is last noted in 1869 when she won the Nore to Dover match against a large field of competitors.
We are grateful to Dr. Sam Davidson for his assistance in cataloguing this lot.