The Yacht “Sappho” of New York, Currier & Ives

D'Amour Museum of Fine Arts

Ship flying American flag off right – sailing to left in image. Five wide sails, no other ships in view.

The prosperity of the latter part of the 19th century allowed the more affluent to enjoy a variety of leisure pursuits. One of these activities was sailing and pleasure yachts became extremely popular. Currier & Ives documented the sport in more than seventy lithographs picturing famous yachts and yachting contests. The yacht “Sappho” was launched in 1867. While the boat was initially not a success, rebuilding the hull increased its speed and the yacht became a champion on the seas. In 1869, the “Sappho” sailed across the Atlantic Ocean (from New York to Queenstown) in a record time of 12 days, 9 hours and 36 minutes. The speed record was not broken for more than 36 years! The next year, the yacht won three consecutive matches against the Cambria, an English boat. The “Sappho” won the last two races of the second America’s Cup in 1871 by crushing the challenger, “Livonia.” In 1872, the “Sappho” defeated the “Livonia” again after sailing to England for the contest.

Object Creator
Currier & Ives (American, 1834-1907)
Object Creation Date
Hand-colored lithograph
26 1/2 x 36 inches
Gift of Lenore B. and Sidney A. Alpert supplemented with Museum Acquistions Funds
Accession Number
On View?
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