Major auction in London of yacht pictures

A group of 24 English School marine paintings and an important royal yachting trophy presented by George IV, from the collection of Olympic-medal yachtsman the late Glen Foster, are to be sold by auctioneers Bonhams in London on Wednesday, 22 January, 2003.

Educated at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, Glen Foster was a legendary yachtsman. He won a bronze medal for the United States at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich and just two weeks before his untimely death in October 2000, he won the 5.5-meter Scandinavian Gold Cup for the third time.

A specialist on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Mr Foster was a member of the New York Yacht Club, the Royal Yacht Squadron, and the Imperial Poona Yacht Club. He competed in the eight-metre, six-metre, 5.5-meter, and Dragon classes and served on the Boards of the Herreshoff Museum/America’s Cup Hall of Fame in Bristol, Rhode Island, and the Acorn Foundation in New York City.

The pride of Foster’s collection is a set of four oil paintings by Arthur Wellington Fowles, which were almost certainly commissioned by Ashbury to commemorate Cambria’s triumphant 1868 season. They show the sleek vessel winning at Cowes off the Needles; winning the Town Cup at Ryde and winning the International Race at Cowes. Each is estimated at ‘30,000-50,000.

Another valuable set of pictures in the collection depicts The Taking of Belleisle in 1761, a series of six oils on canvas by Dominic Serres Snr, one signed and dated 1762, which are together estimated at ‘120,000-180,000.

Serres (1719-1793) was war artist to the Navy and this set of pictures was commissioned by Admiral Augustus Keppel, the English naval commander, to mark his success in the capture of the French fortress of Belle Isle, off Quiberon Bay, on the southern Brittany coast. This was a major embarrassment to the French, the fortress being so close to the French mainland and one of their most significant losses in the Seven Years’ War.

Another successful naval operation is commemorated by Thomas Whitcombe’s Relief of Gibraltar, an oil on panel signed and dated 1792, which is estimated at ‘15,000-25,000. The picture shows Lord Howe’s flagship, HMS Victory exchanging fire with the French and Spanish fleets. The engagement, in which Howe’s brilliant manoeuvres allowed store and transport ships to land troops and supplies on Gibraltar, earned him great praise and the appointment as First Lord of the Admiralty .

The magnificent 1st rate ship-of-the-line HMS Britannia features in a painting by Thomas Buttersworth (1768-1842) which shows the warship off the Eddystone Light. The oil on canvas is estimated at ‘10,000-15,000.

Glen Foster’s interest in racing is underlined by The Yacht ‘Arrow’ of the Royal Yacht Squadron by Capt James Haughton Forrest (1825-1924), which is estimated at ‘15,000-20,000, and Cutter Yachts Racing at Plymouth, by Nicholas Matthew Condy (1818-1851) estimated at ‘5,000-8,000. Arrow was a celebrated cutter owned by Mr Joseph Weld, one of the Royal Yacht Squadron’s “founding fathers” and a very famous name in early British yachting.

George IV, whose interest in racing is well documented, was the first patron of the Royal Yacht Club. The Foster Collection also includes ‘The King’s Cup’, a fine silver-gilt presentation tankard (pictured right), the first and most prestigious of three racing cups presented to the club by the King.