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Mediterranean Harbor Scene
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This image is available for download, without charge, under the Getty's Open Content Program.

Follower of Claude-Joseph Vernet
French, about 1760s
Oil on canvas
38 x 53 in.
78.PA.209

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One might say that he begins by creating a place, and that he keeps men, women, and children in store to populate it, just as one might settle a colony. Then he creates the weather for them, and a sky, a season, a fortune or misfortune, as his fancy strikes him.

So wrote Denis Diderot about Claude-Joseph Vernet in his 1765 Salon review. Vernet's popular views of harbors and ships led to frequent copying and imitation, especially by a group of French artists working in southern Italy who followed his lead in specializing in Mediterranean harbor scenes.

In a manner characteristic of Vernet's followers, this painting's peaceful arrangement balances a delicate tree and massive building at the left with an open view on the right. Human architectural constructions frame the intermingled sea and sky. The artist enlivened the seascape with picturesque figure groupings, each engaged in a routine, yet often amusing, activity from daily life.