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’ , 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.
Figures carry salvaged goods up the shore, while an unconscious woman is laid out on a rock, her friends overwhelmed with despair.
Acquired with a donation from the American Friends of the National Gallery, London, made possible by a gift from David H. Koch, 2004
It appears that the devastating storm has arrived suddenly and without warning, leaving no time for the lighthouse lamp to be lit. Perhaps the distant sunlit landscape is to give us hope that the storm will soon abate.
The French Painter Claude Joseph Vernet, Alexander Roslin, Nationalmuseum (National Museum of Fine Arts) Sweden
(1714 - 1789) Claude-Joseph Vernet was the leading French landscape painter (with Hubert Robert) of the later 18th century.
Portrait of Joseph Vernet, Elisabeth Louise Vigée-LeBrun, The Louvre, Paris
Vernet was born at Avignon and trained there with his father, Antoine, and with the history painter Philippe Sauvan.
Claude-Joseph Vernet was the senior of a whole family of artists, of whom his son Antoine Charles Horace Vernet is probably the best-known today.
Carle Vernet by Robert Lefevre, Louvre