Signed “A. Cook”
Oil on Board
Fantôme II was a yacht of the Royal Yacht Squadron. Unlike other yacht clubs in the UK, Royal Yacht Squadron yachts fly the British Royal Navy’s white ensign along with the club burgee. This burgee is a white pennant, with the red cross of Saint George emblazoned with a crown. Most other British yacht clubs use the red British merchant marine ensign and variations of it. Yachts of the Royal Yacht Squadron were also allowed to add R.Y.S. (Royal Yacht Squadron) as a suffix to their names. Not only were British Monarchs members, but some Royal Naval officers were members and yachts were available to the Royal Navy if needed. Some British yacht clubs, such as the Royal Thames Yacht Club, use the Blue British ensign.
Fantôme II was built as Le Belem in 1896 by Denis Crovan & Company (later Soci?t? des Armateurs Coliniaux – H. Fleuriot & Company) at Nantes, France. The hull was built of steel and she was a working barque (bark), not a yacht.
In 1914 the 2nd Duke of Westminster, Hugh Richard Arthur Grosvenor, rescued her from the breakers when he fell in love with her beautiful sailing vessel lines. He wanted her as a luxury yacht, so he rebuilt her quarters to his high standards and to be able to entertain 40 of his friends at a time. The white balustrades of the poop deck were installed by Grosvenor, and he also installed two Swedish Bolinder engines and two propellers. Despite these changes, he did not change her name. She was then just Belem in English, and in accordance with maritime rules, Belem became the MY Belem RYS. The M.Y. for Motor Yacht, the R.Y.S. for Royal Yacht Squadron.
In 1921 or 22, Sir Arthur E. Guinness, the well known beer maker, was looking for a yacht. He purchased MY Belem RYS from Grosvenor and changed her name to Fantôme II, using the French spelling. Still in the Royal Yacht Squadron this painting could be titled "M.Y. Fantôme II, R.Y.S." Guinness reportedly liked her so much he had an office built on board so he would not have to leave the vessel when business was required.
In 1951 she was sold, renamed Giorgio Cini, and used as a training vessel. She was re-rigged as a barkentine. From 1965 to 1972 she was laid up and out of service. In 1972 she was re-rigged again as a barque and in 1979 returned to French ownership and renamed Le Belem.
The artist, A. Cook, is not known to the Steamship Historical Society of America. A. Cook appears to be self taught, based on the naïve style of the painting.