This watercolour relates to an oil painting in the Government Art Collection titled ‘Kingroad from Portishead Point, near Bristol’ (GAC 2818) and to a watercolour in the City of Bristol Museum and Art Gallery with the same title. Kingroad (or King’s Road), an anchorage at the mouth of the River Avon, was used by shipping bound to and from Bristol. The area was sheltered from the south-westerly winds by a small headland known as Portishead Point (or Battery Point) and had good holding ground for anchors. It was here that vessels completed the loading of their cargoes, allowed pilots to board and waited for a favourable wind. Pocock himself used the Kingroad anchorage when setting out on a number of voyages. The small boat in the foreground of this work is probably bringing ashore a pilot from a ship which has just rounded Portishead Point.
The Bristol Museum watercolour is signed and dated 1787, two years before Pocock left Bristol to work in London. The oil painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1789.
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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