Lowell Libson & Jonny Yarker Ltd

  • Watercolour
  • 7 ⅛ × 9 inches · 182 × 230 mm
  • c. 1787

This appealing, informal study by the marine artist Nicholas Pocock depicts his four eldest sons, including William Innes (Billy) born in 1783, who would become a successful Naval officer and Isaac (1782-1835), who would become a painter training initially under George Romney and latterly under William Beechey. 

He exhibited historical compositions at the Royal Academy and won the premium at the British Institution for his painting The Insolent Visit of Thomas à Beckett to Henry II, Isaac also went on to become a prolific and commercially successful playwright. Given the relative ages of the children, the sketch seems to date to around 1787, when Jonny Pocock would have been around two.

Born in Bristol, Nicholas Pocock was the son of a Bristol seaman. When he was seventeen he was apprenticed as a mariner to his father, latterly finding employment on merchant vessels, eventually successfully commanding a number of ships which saw him make voyages to South Carolina, the Mediterranean and to the West Indies. On each he made log consisting of attractive and accomplished watercolours and in about 1778 he set up as an artist in Prince Street, Bristol, where this attractive watercolour was made. He married Ann Evans of Bristol in 1780 and eventually had eight children. Pocock’s success prompted him to move his family to London in 1798 where he had a flourishing career as a marine painter. This watercolour offers a rare insight into an artists’ domestic life, informally capturing Pocock’s four youngest children at play.