Essential information

Opening times: 
National Maritime Museum, Ground floor, Maritime London gallery

Step back in time to the swinging sixties at three Eastend docks, the Royal Albert Dock, Royal Victoria Dock and the King George V Dock.

The docks were completed between 1855 and 1921 on riverside marshes in the London borough of Newham. Although these docks suffered severe damage from German bombing in World War II, they recovered after the war but then suffered a steady decline from the 1960s onwards, following the introduction of containerisation.

Blue tones unify both sky and river and change from the vivid blue of the sky to the more watery tone of the river. This is broken up by the shapes created by the dark forms of the cranes and ships. The artist has applied the paint in loose brush strokes and allowed the canvas beneath to show through, rather than concentrating on fine detail and delineation to create his overall impression.

The artist Rodney Johnson was born at Newbottle, near Sunderland, in 1920. Living in London from around 1950 to 1960 he had a permit from the PLA to sketch regularly in the London Docks, and they became a regular subject.