Gouache on paper
Attributed to Antonio De Simone (c.1850-1907)Unframed 23″ L x 15″ H
Framed 28 1/2″ x 20 1/2″Presented is an original painting of the steamship WETHERBY
of Hartlepoole, England, She sailed under the flag of the Furness Lines until she was lost off of Cape Hatteras,
NC on January 12, 1893. Launched in 1883, she was an iron steam ship with a tonnage of 2129.18. Her engines
were built by Black Hawthorn. Noted art expert, Louis J. Dianni attributes this work to Antonio De Simone, son of Tommaso,
both noted ship portrait artists of the 19th Century.In this work dated 1883, the year of her launch, she is flying the British
Merchant Ensign at her stern, and the Furness House flag from her mizzen truck. Her plumb bow shows a nice “bone
in its teeth” as she gracefully steams with her auxiliary sails furled. She is a transitional vessel from pure sailing
ships of the same era, but has only two masts with limited sail, and is of a newer three island design. The weather is calm
with puffy clouds, skies and gentle seas. The painting is in its original period frame. It typifies
the Naples School of ship portraits with the brilliant cerulean blue gouache tones from the hand of Antonio.NOTE: The photographs were taken through glass, and what may look like stains,
or discoloration are really reflected images. The three areas of darker water are how the artist depicts the clouds’
CONDITION: The painting is in excellent condition considering
its age and is ready to hang. The gilded frame has a couple of chips of missing, the largest of which is at the left corner.
Under lighting from the side, it appears the paper was folded at one time. The photographs were taken though glass, and
there are some reflected images.
THE ARTIST: Antonio De Simone (c.1850-1907),
son of Tommaso, active 1850-1880, worked in watercolor and watercolor variants, chiefly but not limited to gouache, while
Tomasso, the father, worked exclusively in oils.The son, specialized in portraits of the great society yachts of
the period, but would accept commissions to paint commercial vessel calling on the Port of Naples. Tommaso and Antonio
de Simone are probably the best known of the 19th and 20th century ship portraitists who practiced in Italian seaport cities. A
noted aspect of Antonio’s paintings is his use of a brilliant cerulean blue to portray sea and sky.
Works by both Antonio and Tommaso de Simone are well known and recognized throughout the seafaring
community. Their paintings have been sought out and acquired by many of the world’s foremost museums and collectors. In recent
years the investment value of works by the de Simones has increased dramatically as their paintings become more scarce and
increasingly sought after. Their ship portraits are some of the best of the period in which they painted.
THE FURNESS LINES: The company was started
by Thomas and Christopher Furness in West Hartlepool. They became ship owners starting in 1878. After Thomas left the company,
in 1883 Christopher Furness purchased an interest in the shipyard of Edward Withy and in 1884 bought the company outright.
In 1885 Christopher Furness collaborated with Thomas Wilson to form the Wilson Furness line to operate services between Newcastle
and New York. By 1891 the fleet contained 18 ships and Furness Withy & Co. was founded.
During the following years, the firm, combined shipbuilding, ship owning and
ship management, and grew into a very large organization. Their routes ran mainly between the UK and the East Coast of North
America. They were extended through the Panama Canal to the Northern Pacific coast in 1919 and from 1932, they ran a route
between New York and Bermuda.
Furness, Withy & Co was sold to C. Y. Tung, Hong Kong in 1980 but
they gradually disposed of the ships and in 1990, they sold Furness, Withy (Shipping) Ltd to the owner of the Hamburg
South America Line. In 1998 the name of the firm reverted to Furness, Withy & Co, Ltd and still remained operational in
a piece of nautical history from the hand of De Simone