Nicholas Pocock (1740-1821)
He was one of the leading marine artists of his time, from the 1790s to the 1820s. In his paintings he recorded battles at sea that took place during the Seven Years War (1756-63), the War of American Independence (1775-82) and the wars with France from 1793-1815. He was a meticulous nautical draftsman who illustrated Bristol's shipbuilding and by extension the city's trading with the West Indies. For Pocock was also an experienced mariner, the eldest son of Nicholas Pocock senior, a mariner himself. In 1757, at the age of sixteen, the young Pocock was apprenticed as a seaman for seven years and lived a seafaring life for the next 21 years. He was able to bring his personal understanding of life at sea and the workings of ships to his painting, a knowledge that distinguished him from classically trained fellow marine artists such as Philippe Jacques de Loutherbourg. Pocock was also a gifted painter of the Bristol landscape, from the harbour to the gorge, opening up the pictorial possibilities of the urban and rural parts of the city. His skill at watercolour painting led him to become one of the founder members of the Society of Painters in Watercolour, London, which championed the medium when it was still largely seen as preparatory work for oil painting.