Thames Marine Watercolours

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This selection of marine watercolours of views on the River Thames, London is from a larger collection of fine nautical pictures by a single hand dating from around 1880-1882. In the 18th and 19th centuries the Port of London was the busiest port in the world, with wharves extending continuously along the Thames for eleven miles. The artist captures the variety of vessels on its waters, including traditional Thames barges, fishing boats, steam liners, collier ships and passenger vessels.

Many of the paintings have inscriptions, indicating notable locations on the Thames, such as the “Upper Pool off the Tower”, a significant portion of the Pool of London; "Custom House", the Thames-side building historically known as “Wool Quay” and used for the collection of customs duties; and “Billingsgate”, the largest fish market in the world at the time. The paintings record the variety of industries served by the Thames including coal shipment by colliers and grain cargo transported in barges. They include scenes by moonlight and in heavy fog, reminding that shipping on the Thames operated at all times of day and in all weather conditions.

These Thames paintings form part of a larger collection of nautical watercolours by the same hand, which demonstrate a wide-ranging knowledge and interest in British Naval, merchant, fishing and passenger vessels, in the latter part of the 19th-century. The paintings, meticulous in their detail, are a celebration of Britain’s long history as a maritime nation and, specifically, its industrialisation in the Victorian era. They represent a time when Britain led the world in industrial production, and in shipbuilding in particular.