A Frigate Awaiting a Pilot

A Frigate Awaiting a Pilot

1797
William Anderson
Watercolor and pen and brown ink on medium, slightly textured, cream wove paper
Sheet: 7 7/8 x 11 3/4 inches (20 x 29.8 cm)

The setting of this watercolor can be identified as the area known as the Downs, off the southeast coast of England in the county of Kent. The Downs had long been used as a safe anchorage for shipping, sheltered to the north and west by the coast, and to the east by the ten-mile-long sandbanks known as the Goodwin Sands. These and other constantly shifting shoals in the area posed a hazard to vessels and necessitated the guidance of knowledgeable pilots to navigate the passage between safe anchorage and open water. Here a frigate awaits a pilot; in Charles Brooking’s related painting Shipping in the English Channel (ca. 1755), a ship has just dropped the pilot who guided it out of the anchorage and is setting off to open sea.

B1975.3.1090
Signed and dated in pen and brown ink, lower right: "W Anderson 1797"
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection