James E. Buttersworth (1817 – 1894) was an English painter who specialized in maritime art, and is considered among the foremost American ship portraitists of the nineteenth century. His paintings are particularly known for their meticulous detail, dramatic settings, and grace in movement.
Buttersworth was born in London, England in 1817, to a family of martime artists, and studied painting with his father, Thomas Buttersworth Jr., who was also noted for the genre.
He moved to The United States around 1845, and settled in what is now Union City, New Jersey, and also maintained a Brooklyn studio in 1854. He returned to England in 1851 for the Race for the Hundred Pound Cup that took place on August 22, 1851. His sketches and paintings of that yachting competition provide the definitive record of events in that benchmark season of sailing.
Buttersworth’s paintings of the 1893 Vigilant vs. Valkyrie II Cup match, done one year before his death, completed the chronicling of America’s Cup races by oil painting just before the advent of successful photographic imagery. About 600 of his pieces survive today, which are found in private collections and museums all over the United States, including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Virginia, and have also been featured on the television series Antiques Roadshow.