- Museum number
Figures in a boat off-loading cargo into a smaller boat
Pen and brown ink, with brown wash and grey wash
- Production date
- 1747 (circa)
Height: 269 millimetres
Width: 220 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Notes by Anissia Morel (2003):
This drawing, which was formerly attributed to Filippo Napoletano until recognized by Hugo Chapman, may be grouped with two other pen and ink sketches representing boats rigged with Latin sails. A sheet signed "J. Vernet" in the National Gallery of Oslo (Inv. B 15505) is identical in both technique and style. Latin sails appear again in a drawing in the Musée du Louvre (Inv. RF 23569, repr. in "Joseph Vernet", exh. cat., Paris 1976-1977, no. 71), which is part of an album related to Vernet's series, the "Ports of France". Moreover, a pen and ink panorama of the "Port of Antibes" (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rouen) shows similar boats being unloaded.
This does not mean however that the BM drawing can be dated with certainty to the decade 1753-1762, when Vernet was moving from one harbour to another in order to produce the fifteen views of the Ports of France. Boats with Latin sails frequently appear in Vernet's oeuvre, and there is hardly a harbour scene by him without them. However, the drawing cannot be later than the 1760s: in 1762, Vernet settled in Paris for good and stopped sketching in ports, a practice he had learnt in Rome from his master, Adrien Manglard. As its technique is similar to the "Ships at Naples" in the Courtauld Institute of Art (Witt Collection, repr. in Claude-Joseph Vernet, 1714-1789, exh. cat. Kenwood 1976, no. 63), it might like that drawing be from the 1750s, when it is thought that Vernet stayed in Naples.
Although it was probably sketched on the spot, the quality of the BM sketch indicates that Vernet intended to produce a technical record of this type of boat for studio reference. The figures and such details as the rolled sails, ropes and rigging are rendered with great detail and accuracy.
Philipp Arnold (email April 2021): The drawing, including staffage details, was used by Vernet without any changes for a painting dated 1747 which was offered in Sotheby's New York evening sale on January 28 of 2016, lot 57, giving a reliable terminus ante quem for the drawing. Just one year later (1748) Vernet again used the same scene including the staffage. It is now in the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlung, and a version was engraved with the title 'Les jetteurs de filets' by Anne Philiberte Coulet. There are furthermore several more paintings, either autograph, workshop or follower, where the ship, now inverted, was used with a somewhat different staffage (example also attached from The National Trust, Weston Park collection).
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- This item has an uncertain or incomplete provenance for the years 1933-45. The British Museum welcomes information and assistance in the investigation and clarification of the provenance of all works during that era.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number