James Gale Tyler (1855-1931)

James Gale Tyler (1855-1931). The Steam Yacht “Stella” of Commodore James Walter Thompson, c.1880. Oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches; 24 x 30 inches framed. Signed lower right.

“Stella” was the steam yacht of James Walter Thompson (1847-1928), namesake of JWT advertising agency and pioneer of many advertising techniques. He owned a variety of vessels, including a seagoing houseboat, a steam yacht (Stella). He headed the NY Yacht Club, for which his title as Commodore and his portrait became famous with the company. He lived at 11 E. 68th St. in Manhattan.

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A maritime painter and illustrator, who became very well known during his lifetime, James G. Tyler was born in Oswego, New York.  Underscoring his success and prominence is that fact that his signature appeared on at least 100 forged paintings. Later, at the height of his career, he successfully took legal action against forgers through the District Attorney of New York City.

His interest in marine subjects began early, as by age 15 he was showing fascination with the ocean and seagoing vessels.  He moved to New York City where, studying with A. Cary Smith, he took his only formal art lessons.  Tyler’s signature painting became known for the emphasis on mood and impression rather than for detailed realism.

About his career, it was written that “No aspect of maritime life escaped Tyler’s attention.  In addition to painting all types of boats-from old sloops to clipper ships-he painted a variety of seamen, coastal scenes and seascapes.”

He got much of his subject matter from his yearly travels between 1900 and 1930 to Newport, Rhode Island to paint scenes from the America’s Cup Race.  Many important illustration commissions as well as painting requests came his way during his lifetime.  Among his illustration clients were publishers of Harper’s, Century and Literary Digest.

James Tyler was primarily a resident of Greenwich, Connecticut, but the year he died, 1931, he moved to Pelham, New York.