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Nicholas Pocock (1740-1821) - Avon Gorge with Cook's Folly near the New Hotwell
  • Nicholas Pocock (1740-1821) - Avon Gorge with Cook's Folly near the New Hotwell

    David Cordingly in his book on Pocock mentions that the artist 'undertook a series of eight aquatint engravings of Bristol views and this is clearly linked to this set . The first of the views to be published was the picture of Bristol harbour looking towards the Cathedral; this was inscribed 'Published by N. Pocock, Princes Street, Bristol. Dec 31st 1782.' The remainder were issued between 1782 and 1801. The aquatint engravings were popular and seem to have sold well.' [1] Although Pocock did produce different impressions of the aquatint, it is clear the works were undertaken at least until 1813 and not 1801 as Cordingly suggested. This is most likley because they continued to prove popular with the public and also they would have been a good and easy source of income for the artist. Later impressions of the aquatints tend to be 'heavier in tone' with stronger etching lines. [2] Interestingly, the early  etchings were not aquatinted and the watercolour was fully added by Pocock himself with exemplary care. The etching lines often can be mistaken as pen and ink. 'From 1786 versions appear with aquatint added to assit the modelling and shading. This printed base can be very much more obvious but it was still Pocock himself who added the watercolour.' [3] 


    This work depicts the 'Avon Gorge with Cook's Folly from near the New Hotwell'. Francis Greenacre wrote in an exhibition catalogue on Pocock and Joseph Walter that 'in 1786 Pocock exhibited a View from the new Hot Wells: a drawing at the Royal Academy which may well be the original but unlocated watercolour for this engraving.' [4] We believe that our work may be the lost original that Greenacre mentions that was exhibited at the Royal Academy.  A close look at our composition shows small differences to the aquatint version. [5] Our picture appears to be a pen and ink drawing, with the use of pencil and watercolour by Pocock. It furthermore is not signed which would be unusual for one of the aquatint series. There is the possibility that this could be a very early impression by Pocock with the pen and ink being instead etching lines. However, we believe this is more likely to be an original lost watercolour by Pocock. Further research would aid this assumption.


    The composition shows 'the New Hotwell [that] was open with varying success from the 1740s to the 1780s. In 1754 John Wesley was delighted that it was 'free from noise and hurry' unlike the Hotwell itself. But despite attempts to put Wesley's brief patronage to good effect, the spa was far too difficult of access to enjoy any real success.' [6]


    Medium: watercolour and pencil with pen and ink on paper, 24 x 37cm, framed.


    Provenance: David A. Cross, Fine Art Gallery, Clifton, Bristol (see stamp verso).




    [1] David Cordingly, 'Nicholas Pocock 1740-1821', Conway Maritime Press Ltd: Oxford, 1986, pp. 39-40.


    [2] Francis Greenacre, 'Marine Artists of Bristol: Nicholas Pocock and Joseph Walter', City of Bristol Museum and Art Gallery exhibition catalogue: Bristol, 1982, p.45.


    [3] Ibid., p.44.


    [4] Ibid., p.45.


    [5] Ibid., p.47, see plate 27.


    [6] Ibid., p.45.


    Condition report: some general time staining. Possible small repaired tears in the bottom left hand-corner. There are marks in the top left and right hand-corners that are from a previous mounting of the watercolour. Other small white marks in the sky. Please see photographs. Some wear to the frame.

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