Dose of Art #67: Claude Joseph Vernet – Seaport by Moonlight (1771)

Claude-Joseph Vernet – Musée du Louvre 8334. Title: La nuit; un port de mer au clair de lune. Date: 1771. Materials: oil on canvas. Dimensions: 98 x 164 cm. Nr.: 8334. Source:,_Claude_Joseph_-_Seaport_by_Moonlight_-_1771.JPG.

Vernet was born in Avignon, France and went to Rome to study landscape and maritime painting. His paintings were mainly decorative scenes and were sold to British aristocrats on their Grand Tour. He was aware of his limits as a painter: “Others may know better how to paint the sky, the earth, the ocean; no one knows better than I how to paint a picture.”

This painting is one of his later works and shows his skill in ‘painting a picture’. It is a combination of a maritime and townscape scene and what makes it unique is his incorporation of people. You can see them everywhere; on the big sailing ships, in the smaller rowing boats, fishing, cooking, or just enjoying the scene.