Return of a fleet into Plymouth Harbour

A depiction of Plymouth showing a fleet under an admiral of the blue squadron returning with a prize, in a topsail breeze, with views over Plymouth Sound. In the foreground is Firestone Bay, with Drake's Island in the left background and Mount Edgcumbe on the right. Through his careful delineation of the ships, which are entering the Cremyll Passage, the artist has fused a landscape painting with one concerned with the sea at a period when he was working in England. In the foreground a group of figures are occupied with fishing baskets and hauling a boat. A small coastal craft approaches from the right. Several other figures form groups along the shoreline.

Serres was a well-born Frenchman from Gascony who ran away to sea in merchant service rather than follow family wish that he enter the Church. He probably arrived in England as a naval prisoner of war, took up painting and settled there. His early paintings show the influence of Brooking and Monamy's interpretations of Dutch art but he rapidly achieved recognition for his more documentary visual accounts of sea actions of the Seven Years War, 1756-63, becoming established as England's leading marine painter. His work was even more in demand in the 1770s and 1780s, recording the naval history of the War of American Independence. In 1768 Serres was a founder member of the Royal Academy and at the end of his life its librarian. A well respected and sociable man, he was appointed Marine Painter to George III in 1780. The painting is signed 'D Serres 1766' on the rock in the foreground on the left.

Object Details

ID: BHC1913
Collection: Fine art
Type: Painting
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Serres, Dominic
Date made: 1766
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Collection
Measurements: Painting: 915 mm x 1575 mm; Frame: 1105 mm x 1752 mm x 95 mm

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