A skillful reevaluation of the marginalized genre of marine painting, this study considers the production, reception, and institutions of marine imagery through the critical lens of the social history of eighteenth-century British art. The sea piece, long regarded as of little scholarly importance, is read in the light of politics, patronage, display culture, and the practices of maritime commerce and warfare. Sarah Monks examines the history of British marine art from the arrival in England of Willem van de Velde to the death of J.M.W. Turner - the period in which British art coalesced as an identifiable and increasingly self-conscious category of artistic production. This book therefore describes the trajectory of marine art as it emerged and proliferated within the culture with which, from the 1650s, it was most associated: Britain, the dominant maritime power. Informed by eighteenth-century British art's relation to the histories of empire and colonialism, the volume looks closely at the varied ways in which artists attempted to represent maritime space and the forms of commercial, naval, imperial and artistic power with which it was associated. Extensive use of primary sources, particularly exhibition reviews, provides a rich repository of archival sources for other scholars of the period.