Shipping at Low Tide, Halifax


John Poad Drake, Attributed to
Shipping at Low Tide, Halifax, c 1820Oil on canvas
68.6 x 97.8 cm
Purchase, 1994. Dedicated to the memory of Evan Petley-Jones (1945 - 1996)

John Poad Drake, a descendant of Sir Francis Drake, was born in Stoke Damerel, England in 1794. He began his career working with his father as a naval draughtsman and architect. He later concentrated his efforts on painting and inventing.  Among his patents and improvements Drake devised schemes for breechloading guns and other ordnance-related inventions, but few were adopted. As an itinerant artist, painting landscapes and portraits, he worked in Charlottetown and Halifax (1819 and 1820), in Montreal (late 1820), New York and various parts of the United States (1821-1827). He returned to Montreal and Quebec City (1826-1828) before travelling to England to resume his work as a naval architect.

This rare, early, painted view of Halifax Harbour is related to another, larger canvas at the National Gallery of Canada. The brilliant and airy sunset and the placing of the Mi'kmaq canoe relate the painting to the Romantic movement in Europe, particularly to the atmospheric works of British artists Turner and Constable. In the background we see Halifax and the shoreline of Dartmouth. In the foreground Mi'kmaq vendors are bartering on George's Island. A Mi'kmaq canoe, a topsail schooner and a full-rigged sailing ship are seen on the water.




Shannon Parker
Curator of Collections
Tel 902 424 8457
Fax 902 424 0750

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