Labelled 'Lord Rossmore' on the stretchers and three dated 1850, each composition features the same unidentified yacht. As a group the paintings recall the heyday of 'high society' yachting when the season consisted of a succession of regattas all round the British coast organised by the various prestigious Yacht Clubs extending from Cowes to the Clyde and including the Royal Mersey.
The first two paintings demonstrate that making an open sea passage between the various events could be just as demanding on crew and vessel as the fiercely competitive regattas. Incidentally, they also portray well known landmarks on Anglesey's north coast - a clever ploy on the part of the artist with a view to orientating the enquiring observer. Identified by two of the off-lying 'Mouse' islets visible near its right margin the former painting shows the cutter well reefed-down plugging into a head wind as she makes for the Mersey. On a reciprocal course after the regatta and following her departure from the Mersey, conditions are even more boisterous. Running before a following wind in breaking seas and a heavy swell the cutter is pictured passing Carmel Head, Anglesey, North Wales, as indicated by the two 'White Ladies' leading marks and the West Mouse islet visible near the right margin.
Compared with the first two paintings there could be no greater contrast than the third with its flat calm sea and the cutter viewed in bow view so as to display every item of finery from her extensive wardrobe of light-weather sails; even to those suspended from a boom at deck level.
The artist invokes these same calm conditions in the fourth where the cutter is pictured passing the North West Lightship in the centre of Liverpool Bay, visible here under the tip of her bowsprit. At her masthead the cutter displays the Royal Yacht Club burgee, with the privileged White Ensign at the peak of the gaff. Requiring an Admiralty warrant, the latter signifies that 'the owner is on board and in effective command'. Near the painting's left margin is an incoming paddlesteamer of the Liverpool Steam Tug Company recognised by its unmistakeable funnel colours.
The final painting represents the culmination of the whole exercise. Displaying the owner's racing flag at the masthead and under full mainsail, topsail, and three headsails, the cutter romps home ahead of the remaining competitors, passing the mark boat visible near the right margin. A most fitting finale for the proud owner and possibly the highlight of this unusual portfolio.
Christie's are grateful to Sam Davidson, author of Samuel Walters, Marine Artist - Fifty Years of Sea, Sail & Steam, for writing this catalogue entry.