The present work depicts one of the world's great natural sheltered harbours. Its waters are sufficiently deep to be capable of keeping the largest ships afloat, and the harbour was used regularly in the days of the great Atlantic liners. The harbour is made up of a series of islands. The island to the right of the composition is Haulbowline Island, the former home to the British naval base, and the white buildings to the left of the island are the naval storehouses built in the Napoleonic era. Beyond, and to the left of Haulbowline is Spike island, and beyond that is the entrance to the harbour itself. The spit of land between Spike and Haulbowline is Ringaskiddy.
Atkinson was a local artist, born in Queenstown, County Cork. He served as a ship's carpenter, and later as a Government Surveyor of Shipping. As a result his works display a remarkably thorough knowledge of the sea.
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