|Claude-Joseph Vernet was one of the most famous marine painters in eighteenth century Europe. In 1734 he traveled to Italy where he soon established his reputation. He sketched in an around Rome and along the Mediterranean coast, capturing scenes that provided the basic repertoire of his art for the rest of his career. His paitings were much sought after by Roman collectors and international community of French diplomats and wealthy travellers, especially the British making their Grand Tour. For these patrons, Vernet painted views of Rome and Naples, and imaginary landscapes and coastal scenes that evoke, rather than describe, an idyllic Italian countryside and coastline.|
The Shipwreck epitomize the type of subject for which Vernet is best know. Comissioned in november 1771 by Lord Arundell, The Shipwreck formed a dramatic contrast with its more tranquil pendant Mediterranean Coast by Moonlight (location unknow since about 1955): the first work illustrates "The Sublime" (eliciting a sensation of horror in the spectator) and the second, the "Beautiful" (an agreeable and reposeful sensation), concepts that were much discussed in aesthetic discourse of the day. Here, desperate survivors slide down a rope in an attempt to gain the land as their ship, caught in a storm, lurches against the rocks. Such dramatic narratives were greatly admired by contemporaries who responded with genuine emotion to Vernet's depiction of man's plight in the face of an unreleting nature.
Texto: National Gallery. Nova York: Thames & Hudson, 2005, pp. 172.