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Claude-Joseph Vernet: 'A Sea-Shore'

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This painting is recorded as having been made as one of a pair for the Comte de Luc. The scene is largely fanciful but includes reminiscences of real buildings, notably the Naples lighthouse, recorded by Vernet in a drawing in Vienna. The washerwomen by the river to the right are observed by the fashionably dressed ladies on a platform of rock on the left. The latter have with them a black page and a man in military costume who gestures across to the river. This group, balanced in the composition by the trees to the right, is silhouetted against the sun and overshadowed by the dark cloud that stretches over the lighthouse on the central axis of the painting.

This Italian coastal scene bathed in soft sunlight is clearly influenced by the port scenes of Claude, though much of the effect in Vernet's painting depends upon its picturesque human detail.

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