• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2129

    Maritime Decorative Arts

    15 January 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 183

    Francois-Joseph-Frederic Roux (French, 1805-1870)

    Centerboard Sloop Sylvie New York Yacht Club at Havre, 1866

    Price Realised  


    Francois-Joseph-Frederic Roux (French, 1805-1870)
    Centerboard Sloop Sylvie New York Yacht Club at Havre, 1866
    signed, inscribed and dated 'Frederic Roux, Havre 1866' (lower right) further inscribed 'Côte de la Providence (Americaine)... Frederic Roux, with copyright stamp, Paris, 1866' (on the reverse)
    pencil, ink and watercolor
    15½ x 22½ in. (39.3 x 57.2 cm.) (sight)
    Executed in 1866.

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    In the winter of 1851, the same year he designed the schooner yacht America, George Steers also designed the centerboard sloop Mayflower. Her stem post was narrower, with an extreme beam and a shallow draft. Sold by William H. Brown to the Schuyler Brothers, they sold her to Louis Augustus Depau in 1853 and renamed her Sylvie after his wife (daughter of the French Admiral de Grasse). Louis was the son of Francis Depau, founder of the first line of sailing packets between New York and Havre, France, and a prominent maritime family. Sailing from Depau Island on June 11, 1853 and arriving at Havre in 16 days and 12 hours, Sylvie, with her Captain, Peter H. Comstock of New York was credited for her exceptionally swift passage. On August 19th 1853 Sylvie raced at the Royal Yacht Squadron against Arrow, Aurora, Alarm, Osprey, Aurora Borealis, and Julia. Sylvie finished second behind Julia and was awarded a special 50-guinea cup. Known as the 'Sylvie' cup, this trophy has been raced for every year since 1898 on the Great Lakes. In 1857 she was purchased by C.A. Stebbins of the New York Yacht Club who refitted her as a schooner. It was in this configuration that she competed in the first America's Cup defense in 1870 as part of the 'Defender' fleet which consisted of 18 yachts including the challenger Cambria and the first winner of the 100 guinea cup, America. The selected defender Magic easily won over Cambria by 39 mins - 17secs. Sylvie finished 7th across the line and 3rd on corrected time. Cambria, the challenger, finished 8th across the line and 10th on corrected time. She continued to sail until the turn of the century. Sylvie was broken up in 1906.


    Stephens, William P.; Traditions and Memories of American Yachting, Wooden Boat Publications, Inc., Publishers, 1989. Pages 9-11 for the early history of Sylvie.

    Chevalier, Francois and Taglang, Jacques; America's Cup Yacht Designs 1851-1986, Francois Chevalier and Jacques Taglang, Publishers as a limited edition, for the history of Sylvie during the 1870 America's Cup.

    Grigull, Susanne; Antoine Roux & Sohne, Marinemalerei in Marseille um 1800, Flensburger Schiffahrtsmuseum, Publishers, 2002. Page 78 for a similar example of a yacht at her mooring.