Apr 27, 2012

The Fleet Off the Coast, Beachy Head

The Fleet Off the Coast, Beachy Head

c. 1790–1805

Samuel Atkins

(British, 1760–1810)

Watercolor with graphite underdrawing

Sheet: 34.4 x 48.4 cm (13 9/16 x 19 1/16 in.)

Gift of Lowell Libson in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred M. Rankin, Jr. 2011.411


Did you know?

Beachy Head, the site depicted in this drawing, worked its way into popular culture and literature around the time that Samuel Atkins made the work, including a song of the Royal Navy and a poem by Charlotte Turner Smith, a contemporary of the artist.


This watercolor depicts the breathtaking headlands of Beachy Head, the highest, most dramatic chalk sea cliffs in the United Kingdom. A marine painter active during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, Samuel Atkins patriotically associated Britain’s identity with its coastal geography and famous navy. A fleet of sailing vessels is seen in the distance in full sail, suggesting a rare moment of the entire fleet’s departure.

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