• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 1963

    Maritime Art Including Fine Paintings, Nautical Antiques, Scrimshaw And Ship Models

    30 January 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 348

    Richard M. Firth (British, b.1971)

    Britannia, Lulworth and White Heather (II) powering across the line, Cowes, 1927

    Price Realised  

    Richard M. Firth (British, b.1971)
    Britannia, Lulworth and White Heather (II) powering across the line, Cowes, 1927
    signed 'Richard M Firth' (lower right)
    oil on canvas
    36 x 60 in. (91.5 x 152.4 cm.)


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    Britannia, built for King Edward VII when Prince of Wales in 1893, was undoubtedly the most famous racing cutter of them all. Hugely successful during her long life, she won 33 firsts out of 39 starts in her maiden season and competed against all the fastest yachts of the day. Sold in 1897 - although bought back for cruising in 1901 by which time the Prince of Wales had succeeded to the throne - her second racing career really came into its own when King George V had her refitted for big class competitions in 1921. Under the King's enthusiastic ownership, Britannia went from success to success. Despite being re-rigged seven times in all, her hull shape was so efficient that she remained competitive almost to the end and was only finally outclassed by the big J-class boats introduced in the mid-1930's. King George V died in 1936 and under the terms of his will, Britannia was stripped of her salvageable gear and scuttled off the southern tip of the Isle of Wight.
    Lulworth was designed and built by White Bros. at Itchen in 1920 for Mr. R.H. Lee of Bovey Tracey, Devon. Originally christened Terpsichore and rigged as a cutter, she was registered at 123 tons gross (111= net and 186 Thames) and measured 95= feet in length with a 22 foot beam. Purchased by Sir A. Mortimer Singer - the immensely wealthy naturalised British son of the American inventor of the sewing machine - after Lee's death in 1924, Singer renamed her Lulworth, a name she retained after being purchased by Alexander Paton in 1928. A splendid boat from the start, she nevertheless came into her own under Paton's colours and became a familiar and successful competitor at Cowes during the final years of King George V's long patronage. Ironically, Britannia (the King's yacht) and Lulworth were both laid up after the 1935 Season, the former never to sail again due to the King's death in January 1936, the latter for sale to Mr. Carl Bendix who kept her until the Second World War. Somehow surviving hostilities, she was refitted after the War and is still afloat and sailing competitively despite numerous changes of ownership.
    White Heather (II), one of the classic '23 metre' creations and a slightly older thoroughbred than Westward, was designed by William Fife (Jnr.) and built in his yard at Fairlie in 1907. An equally impressive big cutter registered at 90 tons gross (179 Thames), she measured 95= feet in length overall with a 21 foot beam and proved a remarkably successful boat well into old age. Originally owned by Mr. Myles Kennedy and then by Sir Charles Allom, by 1930 she was in the possession of Lord Waring and still one of the fastest regular competitors at Cowes until the end of her career.