FLOTTE DE SAINT JOSEPH

(French School b.1727)

A Southern Harbour Scene

Oil on canvas: 25 ¾ x 45 3/4 in. 65.5 x 116.25 cm.

Provenance: Signed lower centre

A Southern Harbour Scene, with elegant company accompanied by Turks to the left, a barge with figures to the right, and sea folk enjoying themselves in the foreground;  British frigates anchored in the bay.

The painter was Officer of the Marine under Louis XV, and a member of the Academy of Saint Luke in Paris, where he exhibited in 1753. He clearly had first-hand knowledge of vessels and their rigging from his naval career, and although this scene appears to depict a southern port in the neighbourhood of Toulon, it could equally well describe the coastline of Menorca, which would explain the presence of British frigates. The picture also echoes the great series of Views of French Ports by the artist’s contemporary Joseph Vernet, who was similarly adept at capturing the effects of dawn and sunset over Mediterranean harbours. The fashionable presence of figures a la Turque is also noteworthy, as Ottoman culture was all the rage in Parisian circles at the time.

Among the works exhibited by Flotte de Saint Joseph are a Claire de Lune, Sunrise in an Italian Port and Sunset in an African Harbour.