This panoramic painting is of Portsmouth Harbour taken from the Gosport shore with ships' boats collecting officers from the various sandy coves in the foreground. In the great harbour are two sixty-fours in the centre, with three other men o'war and a merchantman, all at anchor on the ebb tide. A sixth-rate of 20 guns is under way to the right sailing down the harbour towards Spithead, whilst to her right an incoming Royal Yacht sails by.
The composition is based on the engraving by Samuel and Nathanial Buck 'The West prospect of Portsmouth in Hampshire' published in 1749. The Bucks utilised Brooking for composition of ships and the ship's boats as he was deemed to be more superior than other artists that they used such as Monamy and Scott.
This painting came from the Chatsworth Bequest of Holker Hall via Admiral the Hon Francis Egerton (1824-1895), second son of the first Earl of Ellesmere, who in 1865, as a Captain, married Lady Louisa Cavendish (1835-1907), daughter of the seventh Duke of Devonshire. Their first home after marriage was HMS Victory, afloat in Portsmouth harbour, of which he was Captain from 1866-1867: 'A bit of a change from Chatsworth, Holker, etc, but how lovely' wrote Lady Cavendish who remembered this painting well.
Richard E.O. Cavendish Esq, Holker Hall, Cumbria. Christie's 15 Nov 1968, Lot 77 (550 gns to Hughes) Christie's 9 May 1969, Lot 123 (350 gns to Wells) Private Collection Bonham's 13 August 1998, Lot 255 Private Collection.
D. Joel, Charles Brooking (1723-1759) and the 18th Century Marine Painters, Woodbridge, 2000, Joel, pp. 122, no. 21. Illustrated p. 132.