Chatham Harbor on the River Medway
A plan of the Royal Dockyard at Chatham, surveyed and drawn by John Milton, with the shipping engraved by John Cleveley the Elder.
Cleveley spent most his life working as a shipwright, becoming an artist relatively late in life. He specialized in painting ship launches at the Royal Dockyard in Deptford. Milton was a minor marine artist whose son
The Yale Center for British Art notes:
One of a series of views of the six Royal Dockyards, which were by the mid-eighteenth century the world's largest industrial complex and the state's biggest investment. These engravings present the dockyards as orderly, efficient, and rational; each makes reference to the specific functions of the dockyard represented, which depended in part on location. Chatham, on the Medway, was used as a strategic naval base during the Anglo-Dutch Wars of the seventeenth century. Sheerness, at the mouth of the Medway, was then built to take some of the pressure off Chatham, so that ships needing minor repairs did not have to travel the length of the river. Thereafter fleets moored at Chatham during the winter or while on reserve, and the dockyard became employed in repairs more than shipbuilding. Accordingly, the vignettes bordering this print display a combination of dockyard practice (“Sheathing in the dock”), maneuvers (“Laying to under balanc’d mizzen”), and disasters (“Jamb’d in between rocks,” “Wreck’d on the sands”).