Two contrasting seascapes by the French 18th century artist Claude Vernet are to be sold at Bonhams
Old Master Paintings sale in London on 9 July. They are estimated at £1,500,000-2,000,000 for the pair.
A harbour scene at sunset and A shipwreck on a rocky coast were painted in 1775 for Gabriel Courtois de Pressigny, the Archbishop of St Malo, who took part in debates on the constitutional role of the Clergy in the Assemblée of 1788. Despite the wave of anti clericalism which followed the Revolution in 1789, de Pressigny survived but he left France in 1792 only returning in 1799 when Napoleons coup detat effectively marked the close of the revolutionary era. He became Ambassador to Rome under Louis XVIII and ended his days as the Archbishop of Besançon.
Vernets two paintings, contrasting the calm of a harbour at sunset with the tumult of the seas destructive powers, were perfectly judged to appeal to the Romantic sensibilities of pre-revolutionary France. They also reflected the painters own artistic ambitions to create an idealised view of Natures majesty which sometimes clashed with his patrons desires for faithful topographical representations.
Bonhams Director of Old Master Paintings, Andrew Mckenzie commented: Vernet was at his most successful when he followed his instincts and between the 1760s and 80s he found fame all over Europe by giving free reign to his imagination. For 20 years no self respecting art collection was complete without a Vernet.