Charles Pears (British, 1873-1958) Big class yachts, with the King's cutter Britannia in the lead, heading down the Channel past Dover
Lot 128
Charles Pears (British, 1873-1958) Big class yachts, with the King's cutter Britannia in the lead, heading down the Channel past Dover
Sold for £31,250 (US$ 52,494) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
Charles Pears (British, 1873-1958)
Big class yachts, with the King's cutter Britannia in the lead, heading down the Channel past Dover
signed 'Chas. Pears' (lower right)
oil on board
114.3 x 351cm (45 x 138 3/16in).


    The Idle Rocks Hotel, St Mawes, Cornwall

    This magnificent large-scale yachting panorama by Charles Pears is a tour de force for the artist; certainly a work of this size is extremely rare. The artist, with his customary attention to detail, has painted the individual yachts' racing flags sufficiently clearly to allow most of the participants to be identified with certainty even though the race itself remains a tantalizing mystery. Apart from the telling presence of the Royal Navy destroyer discreetly shadowing the royal cutter Britannia in order to watch over the King's person, Britannia's flag is also highly visible as is the distinctive bearded figure of George V himself at her helm. Astern of Britannia and a little inshore is Astra, whilst the central yacht is Sir Thomas Lipton's personal Shamrock. Astern of them all and off the destroyer's starboard bow appears to be Tommy Sopwith's Mouette. The inclusion of her along with Shamrock seemingly dates the work to between 1928 and 1931. The spread of canvas on each yacht and the sea conditions suggest only light winds that day but no doubt all the skippers are hoping for more as they head down Channel and possibly back to Cowes.

    Britannia, arguably the most famous racing cutter of them all, was extremely successful throughout her long life and even though she was re-rigged seven times in all, her hull shape was so efficient that she remained competitive almost to the end. Starting with 33 wins in 39 races during her maiden season of 1893, she enjoyed two brilliant but quite separate careers first under the Prince of Wales (1893-97), and then his son, George V post 1921. The latter grew so attached to her that, under the terms of his will, she was scuttled after his death in 1936 following the removal of all her salvageable gear.

    Astra, was designed and built by Camper & Nicholson at Gosport in 1928, was a splendid large Bermudian-rigged composite cutter ordered for Sir A. Mortimer Singer, the naturalised British son of the fabulously wealthy American inventor of the sewing machine. Registered at 92 tons gross (83 net), she was 115 feet in length with a 20 foot beam and enjoyed a highly successful racing career, first under her original owner and then under Mr. Hugh Paul during 1930s.

    Sir Thomas Lipton, the immensely wealthy tea magnate, spent over thirty years unsuccessfully trying to recover the America's Cup – or the "Auld Mug" as he liked to call it, for Britain with a succession of five yachts named Shamrock I – V. He also owned another Shamrock for his personal use and this is the boat depicted here. Designed and built by William Fife at Fairlie in 1908, she was a composite cutter of 175 tons gross (94 net) and was constructed to the International 23-metre class. Measuring 113 feet in length (76 feet at the waterline) with a 21 foot beam, she proved a great success and won many prizes for Lipton away from the spotlight of the "Auld Mug's" races off Sandy Hook.

    Mouette, a 12—metre Bermudian cutter, was also designed by Charles Nicholson and built by Camper & Nicholson at Gosport in 1928. Owned by Mr. T.O.M. 'Tommy' Sopwith, CBE, she proved the last of a string of yachts on which he 'cut his teeth' before he succeeded Sir Thomas Lipton as Britain's foremost America's Cup challenger after the latter's death late in 1931.

Saleroom notices

  • The location of this work has now been correctly identified as the Carrick Roads, Falmouth, with Pendennis Castle on the headland beyond.
  1. Alistair Laird
    Specialist - Marine Art
    101 New Bond Street
    London, W1S 1SR
    United Kingdom
    Work +44 20 7468 8211
    FaxFax: +44 20 7447 7434
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