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    Xanthus Smith (American, 1839-1929)

    Sinking of the Alabama
    Circa 1865-1870
    Oil on canvas
    Signed on reverse Xanthus Smith, Sinking of the Alabama

    One of Xanthus Smith's most famous subjects was the sinking of the Confederate raider CSS Alabama by the Union ship USS Kearsarge on June 19, 1864 off the coast of Cherbourg, France. This dynamic and panoramic painting depicts the Alabama, at the right of the canvas as she is taking on water, with the Kearsarge on the left making sure she is done for, eventually standing by to take on survivors. Although Smith served in the Union Navy during the Civil War, he relied on first-hand published accounts in completing this picture including those of Confederate Captain Raphael Semmes and the captain of the Union vessel, John Winslow.

    This monumental encounter is captured by Xanthus Smith in minute detail. His use of the small canvas in successfully achieving a lifelike image of the ships, the sea and the ferocious battle made him famous in his own time, much sought after for his Civil War naval scenes.

    The CSS Alabama had been marauding Northern shipping for two years when it made its way to the relative safety of European waters for much-needed repairs. Always on the hunt for the rebel raider, the USS Kearsarge learned of the Alabama being docked at Cherbourg and gave chase, setting up at the port to await Alabama's exit. On June 19, 1864, escorted by a neutral French ironclad Couronne, the Alabama entered international waters where it engaged the Kearsarge. Although the Alabama's shells found their mark on several occasions, the superior gunnery of the Kearsarge and the deterioration of the Alabama's weaponry turned the tide of battle in favor of the Union ship, a point of battle depicted here by Smith.

    The following provenance information was not included in the printed catalogue. Heritage regrets any confusion this may have caused.

    From a private collection other than the Crow Art Partnership

    Condition Report*: Condition report available upon request.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2007
    13th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 915

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