Painted in 1833 this watercolour shows Prince's Dock in Liverpool, the largest of the five docks in operation at that time. Built by John Foster Sr. (1758-1827), Prince’s Dock was opened in 1821 on the day of the Prince Regent’s coronation as George IV. Its construction was much delayed and riddled with scandal regarding Foster’s misuse of the stone supply. It was used as a base for ships trading with North America.
Austin was a Liverpool-born amateur painter of coastal and harbour scenes. This magnificent spectacle of ship masts and dockers handling cargo captures the day-to-day life of the Liverpool port. The right side of the composition is filled with large sail ships berthed right up to the quay, probably destined for transatlantic voyages and trade, while on the far left warehouses line the length of the dock. The tower of St. Nicholas’s Church can be seen in the far distance on the left.