The River Avon: with Passing Vessels

The River Avon: with Passing Vessels

1785
Nicholas Pocock
Watercolor and pen and black ink over graphite on medium, slightly textured, cream wove paper
Sheet: 16 3/8 × 22 1/8 inches (41.6 × 56.2 cm)

Nicholas Pocock made a specialty of scenes of Bristol, a number of them set in the Avon Gorge, the stretch of the river immediately west of the city. This idyllic scene shows a ship being towed downriver from the city to the Bristol Channel. It passes Hotwells, the complex of buildings seen here on the far side of the river that housed natural hot springs, then in their heyday as a spa. Pocock used a very similar composition for one of a series of eight views of the Avon that he produced in aquatint in the 1780s and 1790s. In 1791 a Bristol sugar merchant, John Pinney, wrote to his son in Germany, “It is very difficult to get a set of Mr. Pocock’s views, but as I have one by me which I purchased some time ago for my new house, I will get them framed and glazed and send them by way of Holland.”

B1977.14.4372
Signed and dated in pen and brown ink, lower left: "NP | 1785"
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection