This watercolour shows Lough Leane, the largest of the three Lakes of Killarney in County Kerry, Ireland. The view includes a small sailing boat at the edge of the calm waters of the lake. A man in the boat is busy either winching up or taking down the sail. Two other men on the bank of the lake wait patiently, one apparently holding fishing rods.
Artist Nicholas Pocock is not known to have visited Ireland but may have seen drawings of the Lakes of Killarney by other artists. Similar small boats and figures feature in the illustrations to ‘Scenery and Antiquities of Ireland’ (1840-42) by topographical artist William Henry Bartlett (1809-1854). This publication, released in two volumes by publisher George Virtue, included several views of the Lakes of Killarney by Bartlett. In addition, a similar watercolour view in the collection of Wichita Art Museum, Kansas, was drawn by John Varley and is dated 1833. Varley’s view shows ‘Turk Lake, Killarney’, now more commonly known as Muckross Lake.
This work was purchased for the Government Art Collection in 1963 from the collection of Sir Bruce Ingram, collector of art and former managing editor of the ‘Illustrated London News’.
Nicholas Pocock was born in Bristol; the son of a merchant. He went to sea at a young age and commanded ships belonging to Richard Champion, the first producer of Bristol porcelain. In 1780 he sent a picture to the Royal Academy too late to be included in the exhibition. Two years later, two landscapes and two marine paintings by Pocock were accepted by the Academy and thereafter he exhibited there every year until 1812. In 1789 Pocock moved to London, where he quickly won popularity with naval clients, recording their actions at sea. He briefly returned to sea with the Fleet in 1794. From then, Pocock found employment recording actions of the French Wars. He also produced six paintings illustrating ‘The Life of Nelson’ (published in 1809).
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