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British marine painting developed at the end of the seventeenth century in response to Britain’s mercantile and imperial expansion. Brooking was a major figure in this development. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he preferred generalised depictions of different types of ship, rather than documentary representations of particular places or events. This scene may, therefore, be imagined rather than actual. It was said that Brooking ‘had been much to sea’. This is reflected in his obvious knowledge of sailing in different weather conditions, and of the details of ships, sails and rigging.

September 2004