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Maritime Art, Yachting, America’s Cup, Defender vs. Valkyrie, Leon Alaric Shafer, Antique Drawing, 1899


Leon Alaric Shafer (1866-1940)
Defender — Valkyrie III 1895
New York: 1899
Pen and ink and wash on paper mounted to Whatman board, as issued
Signed and dated lower left: L.A. Shafer ’99
Titled verso and signed “L.A. Shafer/ N.Y. Herald.”
20.74 x 14 inches, paper overall
21.75 x 14.75 inches, board overall
28.25 x 21.25 inches in wooden frame

Crisp, lively pen and ink drawing of the America’s Cup Race of 1895 featuring the American yacht Defender versus the British challenger Valkyrie III. A notation on the back, probably in the artist’s hand, states that it is illustrates “Defender finishing after a magnificent race.” Valkyrie III was built by a syndicate led by Lord Dunraven. Defender was built by the New York Yacht Club syndicate and was the first American yacht with a fixed keel to race for the America’s Cup. Defender was also among the first yachts to be made with aluminum; it was the lightest and fastest vessel to have ever raced for the Cup at that time.

Product Description Continues Below


Leon Alaric Shafer was a painter, etcher and illustrator best known for his maritime and military subjects. He contributed illustrations to books and to periodicals such as the New York Herald, and cover art for American Legion Monthly and The Literary Digest. A scrapbook in the collection of the Maritime Museum of San Diego contains four clippings from the New York Herald of illustrations of America’s Cup races by Shafer, three from 1895 and one from 1899, so it is possible the drawing shown here was published there (consistent with a notation on the back). He also produced a series of 17 plates about the America’s Cup called The Cup Races, published in 1899 by R.H. Russell, New York.

Shafer was born in Illinois, but for most of his life he was based in New Rochelle, New York. He exhibited his work at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1897 and 1905 and became a member of the Society of Illustrators in 1911. During World War I, he designed posters that were used to encourage Americans to help with the war effort. He did the artwork for a popular World War I poster Invest in Liberty Loans, showing the surrender of a German U Boat to an American destroyer. His works are in the collections of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and the U.S. Navy Art Collection.

Title, signature, inscription verso in pencil, possibly in artist’s hand: Defender – Valkyrie III. 1895. First of Series Sept. 5th. Defender finishing after a magnificent race. Lord Dunraven Challenger. L.A. Shafer. N.Y. Herald. [“Lord Dunraven Challenger” partially crossed out. Actual date of first race was September 7th, not September 5th.]

Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning and wear. Some scattered foxing, unobtrusive. Mounted on board, as issued; board is slightly warped. Now in wood frame with grey silk mat and gold bevel.


Falk, Peter Hastings, ed. Who Was Who in American Art. Madison, Connecticut: Sound View Press, 1985. p. 560.

“‘Invest in the Liberty Loan’ Poster.” Smithsonian National Museum of American History. (26 April 2012).

John, Anthony and Ian Dear, ed. The Early Challenges of the America’s Cup (1851-1937). Sydney: Pierson, 1986. pp. 56, 59, 67-69.

“Spirit of 1917 Marine Corps, Leon Alaric Shafer.” Reproductions from the US Navy Art Collection. (26 April 2012).

“The Cup Races/ by L.A. Shafer.” (26 April 2012).

“The Scrapbook Collection.” Maritime Museum of San Diego. 2009. (26 April 2012).

Additional information


19th Century