William Alexander Coulter (1849-1936 Sausalito, CA)
"Three Brothers Clipper Ship Outward Bound"
Oil on canvas
Signed lower right: W.A. Coulter
24" H x 36" W

Notes: Three Brothers was built in 1857 by Cornelius Vanderbilt at a cost of one million dollars and launched as the Vanderbilt, a side wheel paddle steamer, for transatlantic passenger sevice. It was converted into a three-masted clipper ship in 1873. The ship was scrapped in 1899.

William Coulter was born in Glenariff, County Antrim in what is today Northern Ireland on March 7th, 1849, the son of a captain in the Coast Guard. After a stint as an apprentice seaman beginning at age 13, Coulter eventually settled in San Francisco in 1869. The city by the bay was an important center for the Pacific trading routes and a maritime hub on the Pacific Coast, perfect for a young man with the sea in his blood. Never far from the water, Coulter spent most of his free-time fostering his innate talent for drawing and art. While working as a sailmaker during his early years in San Francisco, Coulter began contributing to exhibits organized by the San Francisco Art Association. Though he was mostly self-taught, Coulter eventually studied with marine artists in Europe, returning to the Bay Area in the late 1870s where he would remain for the rest of his life. Coulter's works were prized by captains for their accuracy, showing their vessels at their most glorious in harmony with the water.

The "Three Brothers" was initially built as an iron-steamer by Cornelius Vanderbilt in 1857 and launched at Greenpoint, New York. After its conversion to a full-rigged clipper ship in 1873, it was regarded as one of the fastest clipper ships of its day and was a regular on the San Francisco, Le Havre, Liverpool, and New York City shipping routes. Coulter likely painted the Three Brothers sometime after his return to San Francisco from Europe in the late 1870s. The deftness of the brushwork shows each sail and rig in exacting detail with hints of crewmembers engaged in work drawn for scale. The cloudy sky with suggestions of a storm is painted with the looming Farallon Islands skewed by mist miles away, anchoring the setting firmly in the San Francisco Bay Area. Though the skies have darkened on the cusp of a squall, Coulter's brushwork assures the viewer that the Three Brothers can handle the worst of what the Pacific Ocean and treacherous Farallon Islands can throw at it.

  • Condition: Visual: Generally good condition. Craquelure scattered throughout the sky. Stretcher bar creases along the four edges. A pea-sized scuff mark in the lower left corner.
    Blacklight: Small spots of touch-up scattered throughout the sky.
    Frame: 28.5" H x 40.5" W x 2.5" D

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April 9, 2019 6:00 PM PDT
Monrovia, CA, US

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