In the distance of this rocky view is the 24-metre high outcrop known as Mount Batten, situated on a peninsula of the bay called Plymouth Sound (or The Sound). Mount Batten is named after naval officer and politician William Batten, who was responsible for fortifying the tip of the peninsula. On top we see the Mount Batten Tower, a 30-foot high artillery tower built on the headland during the Civil War. Originally designed to accommodate ten guns on its roof, it was equipped with two Quick Firing guns during the Second World War.
Artist Richard Brydges Beechey lived in Plymouth from 1858 to about 1866. During this time, and after leaving Plymouth, he painted several views of the harbour. Other examples of his Plymouth views, now held in private collections, include: ‘Lazy Afternoon off Plymouth Hoe’; ‘The Admiral’s Hard, Stonehouse, Plymouth’ (1865); ‘Fishing Boats off Plymouth’ (1869); and ‘Plymouth Breakwater with HMS Constance Offshore’ (1889).
Richard Brydges Beechey was born in London, the second youngest of 18 children of painter Sir William Beechey. He entered the Royal Naval College, Portsmouth, in 1821. He may also have received some instruction in painting from his father. In 1825, Beechey joined ‘HMS Blossom’ as a midshipman on a three-year voyage of discovery in the Pacific. On his return in 1828 he was promoted to Lieutenant and by 1885 had risen to the position of Admiral. In 1832, he first exhibited his marine paintings at the Royal Academy and showed work there almost every year until 1877. After retiring from the Navy in 1864, Beechey was free to pursue marine painting more fully. He died in Southsea in 1895.
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