Robert Webber, Classic Yacht Portrait Painter

Aphrodite. Sequoia. El Presidente. These are some of the most famous classic megayachts made in America, launched well before the term megayacht was coined in the 1980s. You may know that each has been lovingly restored. What you may not know is that each is the subject of a special portrait painting—and you can order a limited-edition art print. They’re part of the Great American Yacht Classics series, created by Robert Webber.

Webber has been pursuing dual passions for vintage yachts and painting for many years. Initially, he pursued photographing and then painting these boats solely for personal enjoyment. He was attracted to their design, naturally, but also their historical significance. When he had amassed quite a number of renderings, Webber began presenting them as gifts to the yachts’ owners. Most were surprised to learn that Webber had carefully documented their yachts’ design details.

Realizing a wider audience existed for his works, Webber began showcasing his yacht portraits at the Miami International Boat Show in 1993. That, in turn, led to being commissioned by individual classic-yacht owners to create custom portraits of their pride and joy. Since then, Webber’s works, many of which are visible on his Classic Yacht Portraits website, have been hanging in private homes, corporate collections, and art museums. The original Sequoia portrait (above), for example, hangs in the office of Thomas A. Rooney, a U.S. Congressman from Florida. Related to this, Webber gave a signed, limited-edition archival art print of Sequoia to Gary Silversmith, who spearheaded the restoration of the yacht and oversees her present-day voyages along the Potomac.

Sequoia’s significance in U.S. history—she served eight Presidents—convinced Webber to add her to his Great American Yacht Classics print series last year. The Great American Yacht Classics series includes the elegant launches from notable names like Elco, Trumpy, and Mathis. The above-mentioned Aphrodite and El Presidente are in the series, as are “small” yachts like Dolphin, a 66-foot mahogany commuter built in 1939. Coming soon is the 75-foot commuter Justice, from 1930.

Small, medium, and large prints are available, with the latter two formats accompanied by as much historical data as Webber can obtain. This includes original specifications, the history of the builder, and the background on owners over the years. Each print is also numbered and signed by Webber, plus includes a certificate of authenticity.

The Great American Yacht Classics print series prices range from $175 to $575, according to format size. All prints are available exclusively through Webber.

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