This view of ships, apparently heading toward Harwich in Suffolk, includes in the distance a view of Landguard Fort at Felixstowe, to the right of the composition. Landguard Fort was originally built in King Henry VIII's reign and was altered in the 1740s and in Queen Victoria's reign.
A painting of a similar location was exhibited by Holman at the Society of Artists some nine years before this work was painted in 1771. The c.1771 work was titled ‘Ships sailing towards Harwich – a squall [quick, driving gust of wind or rain] Coming On’.
Francis Holman, marine painter, was born at Ramsgate, the son of a sailor. For much of his career, he lived in Wapping, London. His earliest paintings are ship’s portraits and many include the Kentish coastline, where he grew up. He initially exhibited at the Free Society of Artists. By 1773 he had taken on an apprentice, Thomas Luny. Towards the end of his career, Holman specialised in sea battles and other scenes involving the Royal Navy, Many were exhibited at the Royal Academy. He particularly painted sea engagements associated with the American War of Independence and the shipbuilding programme driven by that war. Holman died at his home in Wapping in 1784. His father returned his body to Ramsgate for burial.
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