Bristol Perspective

This is claims to be an 18th century scene from Bristol’s quay. But is it?

For a start it looks too tidy for such a famously dirty port. The ships seem too small and the water too narrow but these may have been to fit in more details.

But the water is heading uphill. Again, maybe artistic license but look to left lower corner. There are buildings well below the water line. This makes the water on the side of a hill.

This just doesn’t work. And yet people discuss this as if accurate, claiming St Mark’s chapel on college green is to the left and King Street somewhere to the right. They seem to accept the stone bridge as their fixed point and improvise round it.

So what is it? I’ve read North American accounts of the city which are widely inaccurate. They mention sandy beaches, of whales in the distance, clearly they’ve never been there.

Also in North American colonies were artists that strayed into fantasy landscapes which played with perspectives and included imaginary features. I think this is one of them.

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