Black Squall at Gibraltar by James Edward Butterworth
James E. Buttersworth was the greatest and most successful American marine painter of the 19th century. Born and trained in England, Buttersworth was in his twenties when he immigrated to the United States around 1845. Although young, he was already a fully mature artist whose talents were immediately recognized by American collectors. Among the many artistic qualities that separated his work from other marine painters of the period was Buttersworth’s unparalleled ability to paint sailing vessels with great veracity within compositions that were dramatic, yet plausible.
Black Squall at Gibraltar is one of Butterworth’s most accomplished and emotional paintings of the 1850’s. In the composition the artist rises to new heights of aesthetic sophistication; the lightning bolt serves to illuminate and freeze the drama of man struggling against nature. This theme also appears in the paintings of contemporary Romantics – Turner, Gericault and Friedrich.