Albert van Beest (Dutch-American, 1820-1860)

Born in Rotterdam, Albert Van Beest grew up amidst the Dutch wharves. From an early age he showed exceptional talent in sketching and he was chosen to travel with Prince Henry of the Netherlands and the Dutch fleet to the Mediterranean, where he spent three summers sketching portraits, Moroccan street scenes, and marine scenes. Many of his later oil paintings were developed from sketches made on these travels. Van Beest traveled the coast of Brazil, Patagonia, and the Falklands; spent a year in Iceland, painted in Morocco, and claimed to have been in the Russian Navy. In 1845 he announced to his mother that he was leaving home for a few days. With only the clothes on his back and a few pencils, he sailed to New York, where he remained for fifteen years. His best known pupil was the Massachusetts marine painter William Bradford, who sought Van Beest out after learning of his arrival in America. On Bradford’s invitation, Van Beest went to New Bedford where the two artists shared studio space and collaborated for three years. Occasionally Bradford painted the American vessels on canvases with Van Beest’s turbulent seas. A versatile painter comfortable with varied subjects, Van Beest nevertheless preferred the drama and turmoil of marine paintings and stormy seas. Equally dramatic and temperamental, Van Beest reportedly worked quickly and intensely at the easel, with great concentration and attention to detail. He died in New York at the age of forty.

Rebecca (Yacht Race off Sandy Hook, New Jersey)

by Albert van Beest (Dutch-American, 1820-1860)

Medium DetailOil on canvas
Dimensions39 x 72 inches; Framed: 53 x 86 ½ inches
Signed LocationSigned and dated, lower right
Date Created1859
Provenance(Probably) James Gordon Bennet, Jr.
Private Collection, FL
A Private Estate, FL
Hill Auction Gallery, FL, January 25, 2023
CommentsThe private signal flying at the mast head of “Rebecca” is that of James Gordon Bennett. Jr. The racing yacht was given to Junior in 1857 as a sixteenth birthday gift by his father James Gordon Bennett, publisher of the New York Tribune and one of the richest men in America.

The red lightship in the left side of the composition is the Sandy Hook Lightship. The lighthouse depicted at the right side of the composition is the Sandy Point, NJ lighthouse. A Currier & Ives chromolithograph of “The Yacht Rebecca -- 75 Tons” was published in 1861.

James Gordon Bennett Jr’s summer home “Stone Villa” (built 1833) was situated on Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI, directly across the street from the Vareika Gallery. “Stone Villa” was demolished in 1957 to make way for the Bellevue Gardens shopping Center. In 1881, Bennett commissioned the New York architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White to design the Newport Casino complex on Bellevue Avenue as a men’s club. This was supposedly occasioned by Bennett’s expulsion from the membership of the exclusive Newport Reading Room men’s club for waging a British polo player friend Captain “Sugar” Candy to ride his polo pony up the front steps of the fashionable Reading Room. Today, the Newport Casino building houses the International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum, just a few doors from the Vareika Gallery.

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