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Author Topic: Nicholas Pocock 1740 - 1821  (Read 1820 times)

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Offline Bilgerat

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Nicholas Pocock 1740 - 1821
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2015, 12:47:03 »
By David Cordingly ISBN 0 85177 377 X

This book is a biography of one of our leading maritime artists who painted some of the most detailed pictures of ships, places and battles of the Royal Navy in the period of the American War of Independence to the Napoleonic Wars.

Pocock was a Bristol man who took up art as a profession later in life. Prior to becoming an artist, he was a merchant captain who before the American War, worked the trade from Bristol to Charleston. He was always a gifted artist and his personal log books are littered with drawings and paintings of the ships he commanded, the ships he encountered and the places he visited. At some point between 1776 and 1780, he decided to leave the employment of Richard Champion, the Bristol shipowner for whom he worked and take up a career as a professional artist.

He first came to the attention of the art establishment in 1780, when he sent an oil painting to the Royal Academy for exhibition. It arrived too late to be included but it was seen by Sir Joshua Reynolds, then President of the Royal Academy who wrote a letter to Pocock with some suggestions and constructive criticism. Reynolds' words were taken in the spirit with which they were meant and before too long, Pocock had changed his style. Before too long, his paintings were being exhibited at the Royal Academy and he was receiving commissions from the likes of Sir Samuel, the Lord Hood, his younger brother, Sir Alexander Hood, the Lord Bridport and others. His clients also included the Navy Board, who commissioned paintings of an aerial view of the Royal Dockyards at Woolwich and Plymouth, to be based on the plans of those yards.

Pocock died in 1821 after having reached the pinnacle of his profession. Not bad for someone who got there on raw talent alone; he had never received any formal training as an artist. His paintings are renowned for their technical accuracy and in some cases, their sheer beauty.

The book details Pocock's life in the Merchant Navy, his career as an artist, his influences and the impact he had. Not too long at 120 pages, it's an easy read. It's a little disappointing owing to the fact that most of the reproductions of his work are small and monochrome and don't really do the paintings justice. Usefully, it does tell you where (at the time of writing) the artist's work is in public collections.

Published in 1986, the book is sadly no longer in print and is available only in public libraries or second-hand.
"I did not say that the French will not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Lord St Vincent


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