Samuel Atkins (c1765–1808)

British Single Decker off the Coast

Watercolour over pen and ink, 133/4 x 19 in (35 x 48 cm), Circa 1800.

Frigates, the eyes of the fleet, according to Nelson, are often the favoured vessels of the early marine artists. Though they become progressively heavier towards the end of the 18th century, their sleekness of line was appealing, whether viewed side on, as is the case with the distant vessel, which is at anchor, or in half profile, as on the right, where the main vessel is beating into the wind. The traditional high masts of the frigate enhance the appearance of the square rigged sails and are an important element in the attractiveness of these sea pieces. Atkins here employs a favoured device of darker shadows over the foreground waves, leaving an effective diagonal for the lighter pigments beyond.

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