Atkins was well enough established as a marine artist to advertise lessons in marine drawing at his residence near the Strand in 1788. A mariner, he was at sea from 1796 – 1804, often on long voyages to the East Indies and China. Drawings done on these voyages are rare, and his usual subject matter is of shipping around the coasts of Britain, including some harbour and dockyard views. His work, particularly of calm views on a small scale, is neat and accomplished. He also managed to achieve a more realistic depiction of rougher seas. Adept at aerial perspective, he also showed skill in composition, enhanced by a full understanding of the appearance of vessels in relation to wind and weather conditions.
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