Kingroad from Portishead Point, near Bristol

  • About the work
    Location
    Country: New Zealand
    City: Wellington
    Place: British High Commission

    Kingroad (or King’s Road), an anchorage at the mouth or 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.

    Watercolour versions of this painting are in the City of Bristol Museum and Art Gallery and the Government Art Collection (GAC 1789). The compositions of the two watercolours are similar to this work, although they include figures on the rocks in the lower right foreground. The Bristol Museum watercolour is signed and dated 1787, two years before Pocock left Bristol to work in London. Such watercolours were shown to potential clients, one of whom presumably commissioned this oil painting. Made soon after the Bristol Museum watercolour, the oil painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1789.

  • About the artist
    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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  • Details
    Title
    Kingroad from Portishead Point, near Bristol
    Date
    Medium
    Oil on canvas
    Dimensions
    height: 75.00 cm, width: 112.00 cm
    Acquisition
    Purchased from Christie's, 23 July 1954
    Provenance
    Collection of Mrs Ambrose Congreve; by whom sold through Christie's, London, on 23 July 1954 (Lot 157), as ‘Men o war and other shipping off a rocky coast’; from which sale purchased by Richard Walker on behalf of the Ministry of Works
    GAC number
    2818