Robert Cleveley (1747–1809)

The Picnic after the Catch

Watercolour, 5 3/4 x 9 1/4 in (17 x 23.5 cm), Signed and inscribed Dover 1790.

This is a perfect snapshot of British marine life in the 18th century. Fishermen, their boat hauled up on the beach, have delegated to one of their number the task of boiling water for their catch. The artist has taken advantage of all the picturesque elements of the scene – the tranquil landscape across the bay, the animated group of fisherman, and the plume of smoke wafting away in the slight offshore breeze. The arrangement of sails is a crucial part of the composition, the sails on the left drawing the eye to the central figures whist the curve of the sail on the right points directly to the figure engaged in preparing supper.

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