A cutter and a man of war off Corsica, 1788

The early part of Pocock's career was spent commanding ships belonging to Richard Champion, one of a family of Bristol merchants, who was afterwards the first producer of Bristol porcelain. He was already an amateur artist and illustrated his fair-copy ships' logs with drawings, including that of the 'Betsy', which he took to the Mediterranean in 1770 (NMM MS Log/M/3). During the 1770s he decided to become a professional artist and began exhibiting marines and landscapes at the Royal Academy in 1782. He received support from Joshua Reynolds who advised him to 'unite landscape to ship painting' which he successfully does in this watercolour, dated to just before he settled in London in 1789. Whether this view is of a particular place is uncertain, since the identification with Corsica may be based on the 'Martello' tower on the left. One of many 17th-century coastal examples there built by the Genoese, and the one later copied in England, was that on Mortella Point on the west side of San Fiorenzo Bay, the deep north-facing inlet west of Cape Corse. This may be a romanticized view of that location, where there was also later a battery further down the bay on the same side, at Fornelli, though probably not as substantial as the 17th-century fortification on the left.

The pigments Pocock used in his watercolours, especially the indigo, have tended to fade very badly, but this is a comparatively fresh example. It is signed by artist and dated 1788. Purchased from Messrs Appleby, London, 1956. Exhibited: NMM Pocock exhib. (1975) no.14.

Object Details

ID: PAF5922
Collection: Fine art; Special collections
Type: Drawing
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Pocock, Nicholas
Places: Unlinked place
Date made: 1788
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Mount: 262 mm x 377 mm

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