In 1887, the Soho colourman dealer, Frederick Mills, generously offered to finance Frank Brangwyn for a trip to Cornwall. Mills was renowned for his support for young and gifted artists and quickly recognised Brangwyn’s talent and his burning ambition to paint the life of the sea. The artist’s love of the ocean was fired more than ever after his move from Bloomsbury to Chelsea and the river earlier that year. He joined the Royal Naval Volunteers with his friend Frank Short and together they performed gunnery drill on the President, an old warship in the West India Dock, sketched and painted sailors and their ships and made frequent journeys down the Thames aboard the Garibaldi.
Desperately poor at this time, Brangwyn managed to scrape together enough funds by working on designs for William Morris, for a short three week painting trip to Rye, a picturesque fishing town in East Sussex. This is one of the resulting watercolours from his time there.