Claude-Joseph Vernet (1714 - 1789)
- Tempête et Naufrage d'un Vaisseau (A Storm and a Shipwreck)
- Oil on canvas
- Image size: 87 x 137 cm
Frame size: 116.5 x 167 x 11 cm
- Inscription: '217.' in white
Signature: 'J. Vernet. f.1754'
- The painting is one of Vernet's masterworks after his move from Rome to France. It was commissioned by Madame de Pompadour’s brother, the marquis de Marigny, after he had become Surintendant des bâtiments (Minister for the Arts) under Louis XV, and was painted while Vernet was living in Marseille, between October 1753 and September 1754. The painting was exhibited at the Salon of 1755. Marigny commissioned a pendant to the painting, an 'Italian Landscape with Washerwomen and Fishermen', 1757 (Private Collection). Vernet often combined stormy and calm landscapes as contrating pairs. The painting formed part of a display of masterworks of French paintings in Marigny's official residence.
Shipwrecks were a favourite subject of the artist, allowing him to invest his seascapes with emotional dramatic content. The present scene demonstrates man’s helplessness in the face of Nature. According to some contemporary critics, including Diderot, the excellence of Vernet’s figure drawing and his mastery of gesture and expression brought such works close to the admired genre of history painting.