The NMM is continually working to increase online access to its collections and, thanks to a grant to aid photography from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, over 400 drawings have just been added with often detailed commentary on what they show.
These drawings are from sketchbooks, mainly by Royal Navy officers as they sailed around the world, giving us views of tropical islands, exotic cities and native peoples. The works give a valuable and often humorous insight into life aboard ship during the 18th and 19th centuries and how the ability to draw a landscape was not just a pastime but also a means of intelligence gathering.
I hope you enjoy these drawings and that you are as intrigued by the content as I have been.
Lt James Henry Butt, Tombs of the 47 Ronins, Yedo (PAJ2063)
At the National Maritime Museum we continue to catalogue and digitise our collections and we regularly review our online collections to keep them up-to-date with our progress. The most recent additions to our Collections Online are drawings, prints and watercolours by the artist Nicholas Pocock (1740-1821).
Nicholas Pocock, A third-rate, a frigate, a fishing lugger and other craft off shore in a calm, 1794 (PAH8403)
Nicholas Pocock was a leading British painter of naval and marine subjects. Here, at the NMM, we have an extensive collection of his works and the largest collection of his paintings in Britain. His fascinating sketches, watercolours and paintings show important events including: the Seven Years War (1756-63); the American War of Independence (1775-82) and the French wars. His works, in our collection, range from rough sketches through to oil paintings, which give us an excellent insight into historical events and his artistic practice, so it is important to us that they are available to our online visitors.
Nicholas Pocock, The Battle of the Glorious First of June, 1794; plan of the action (PAD8870)
In 1778, following a career at sea, Pocock set up on his own as an artist and began exhibiting works at the Royal Academy from 1782. He was present at the Battle of the Glorious First of June 1794, on board the frigate Pegasus, and he sketched the action as it unfolded. This is the first instance that we know of a professional artist accompanying a fleet with the intention of documenting a battle since Willem van de Velde the Elder (1611-1693). Pocock’s sketches of the battle are, as a result, records of the event by an eyewitness. Subsequently Pocock made paintings of the battle, based on the sketches that he took on the spot, which he exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1796 and 1797. An example of which, The ‘Brunswick’ and the ‘Vengeur du Peuple’ at the Battle of the First of June, 1794 (BHC0471), is in our collection.
Nicholas Pocock, The ‘Brunswick’ and the ‘Vengeur du Peuple’ at the Battle of the First of June, 1794, 1795 (BHC0471)
Many of Pocock’s works were engraved for publication and, following the death of Dominic Serres in 1793, Pocock became the leading naval painter of his age. You can browse or search our online catalogue of prints, drawings and watercolours by Nicholas Pocock on Collections Online. Alternatively, take a closer look at some of the objects that have featured in our exhibitions or peruse other online topics including Franklin relics and Maritime Art Greenwich.