Smith was very successful during his lifetime, supplementing his income from exhibition sales with paintings commissioned by private collectors, corporations and yacht clubs. Founded in 1824, the Plymouth Cordage Company in Plymouth, Massachusetts, was at one time the world’s largest rope-maker. During its 140-year existence, the company made significant contributions to the area as its largest employer, providing workers with jobs as well as facilities for education, recreation and medical treatment. They commissioned The Stag Hound from Smith for one of their annual calendars, along with other notable ships including the Sovereign of the Seas and the Red Jacket, and for many years the original painting hung in Harris Hall on the company’s grounds until Plymouth Cordage closed its doors in 1964.
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The Stag Hound was an impressive vessel, deemed the largest clipper of her time when she was launched in December of 1850. Designed and built by Donald McKay at his East Boston shipyard, she was one of the famed shipbuilder’s first true clippers and turned a profit for her owners, Boston merchants George B. Upton and Sampson & Tappan, on her first round-trip voyage between New York and San Francisco. Though she was soon eclipsed by even larger and faster ships as the race for more extreme clippers continued, between 1851 and 1861 the Stag Hound completed many voyages from the Pacific waters of China to the Northern Atlantic shores of England, and even survived a mutiny in 1860. In October of 1861, while en route from Sunderland, England to San Francisco with a load of coal, her cargo ignited and the crew safely abandoned ship before the Stag Hound sank off the Brazilian coast.
Commissioned from the artist by the Plymouth Cordage Company for annual calendar, ca. 1930s – 1940s; hung in a company building for many years
Gifted to member of senior management when the company closed, 1964
By descent within the family to his sons, private collection, Manomet, Massachusetts, 2013
- (verso of Masonite) Property of Paul Williams
- (verso of old frame) “STAG HOUND”