You can find A Shipwreck in Stormy Seas in Rust’s Shelter in North Lodge Park
Acquired with a donation from the American Friends of the National Gallery, London, made possible by a gift from David H. Koch, 2004
A Shipwreck in Stormy Seas (‘Tempête’), 1773
Oil on canvas, 114.5 × 163.5 cm
This is one of a pair of seascapes, originally commissioned on behalf of the King of Poland, that the British officer and East India Company official Lord Clive (known as Clive of India) bought from Vernet in 1773.
Originally known as ‘Tempête’ (Storm), it depicts a rocky shoreline buffeted by a violent sea storm. Two ships roll in the giant swell, sails tied down or tattered by the turbulent winds and lashing rain, while a third ship lies shattered against the rocks. Figures carry salvaged goods up the shore, while an unconscious woman is laid out on a rock, her friends overwhelmed with despair.
The extreme, turbulent elements depicted here contrast with the tranquil atmosphere of its pair, ‘Calme’, reflecting ideas fashionable at the time about the beautiful and sublime in nature and art. They are the only great pair of marine views by Vernet in a British public collection.
read more at nationalgallery.org.uk
Claude-Joseph Vernet was the leading French landscape painter (with Hubert Robert) of the later 18th century. He achieved great celebrity with his topographical paintings and serene landscapes. He was also one of the century’s most accomplished painters of tempests and moonlight scenes.