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 Nicholas Pocock  (1740 - 1821)

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Lived/Active: United Kingdom/England      Known for: naval battles other marine painting and wash sketches

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Ad Code: 2
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Admiral Rodney's flagship H.M.S. Formidable, 98-guns, breaking the line, at the beginning of the Battle of the Saintes, 12th April 1782
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Nicholas Pocock (2 March 1740 – 9 March 1821) was a British artist best known for his many detailed paintings of naval battles during the age of sail.

Pocock was born in Bristol in 1740, the son of a seaman. He followed his father's profession and was master of a merchant ship by the age of 26. During his time at sea, he became a skilled artist by making ink and wash sketches of ships and coastal scenes for his log books.

In 1778, Pocock's employer, Richard Champion, became financially insolvent due to the effects of the American Revolutionary War on transatlantic trade. As a result, Pocock gave up the sea and devoted himself to painting. The first of his works were exhibited by the Royal Academy in London in 1782.

Pocock was commissioned to produce a series of paintings illustrating George Rodney's victory at the Battle of the Saintes in 1782.  In 1789, he moved to London, where his reputation and contacts continued to grow. He was a favourite of Samuel Hood and was appointed Marine Painter to King George.

Pocock's naval paintings incorporated extensive research, including interviewing eyewitnesses about weather and wind conditions as well as the positions, condition, and appearance of their ships; and drawing detailed plans of the battle and preliminary sketches of individual ships. He was also present himself at the Glorious First of June in 1794, on board the frigate HMS Pegasus.

In addition to the large-scale oil paintings depicting naval battles for which he is best known, Pocock also produced many watercolours of coastal and ship scenes.

Pocock married Ann Evans of Bristol in 1780; together they had eight children. He died on 9 March 1821 at the home of his oldest son, Isaac, in Raymead in the parish of Cookham, near Maidenhead, and is buried in the parish church there.

Two of his grandsons, Alfred Downing Fripp and George Arthur Fripp, were also artists.


Biography from VALLEJO GALLERY, LLC, Marine Art Specialists:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Nicolas Pocock was a member of the first generation of British sea painters, following the Dutch tradition of the Van de Veldes alongside such notables as Isaac Sailmaker, Peter Monamy, Dominic Serres and Charles Brooking.  The foundation of marine painting built by these men would change the art world’s perceptions for centuries to come.  Primarily capturing naval engagements and marine narratives in both oil and watercolors, Pocock was a founding member of the Old Watercolor Society at the age of 63.

Among his patrons Pocock counted several members of the aristocracy and important naval officers, and was a naval man as well.  After leaving service, he lived and worked in Bristol and then London.

His work proceeds from the dramatic Dutch tradition early on to adapt the smoother sensibilities that working in the watercolor medium provides: fluid and an exacting ability to softly touch the brush for the finest of details.

During his lifetime, Pocock exhibited 113 paintings at the Royal Academy, and most were of specific historic events recording the nature of naval campaigns throughout Europe. Pocock’s work is in museums throughout Great Britain, Holland and Europe, including a large collection at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.

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