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Title Rocky Coast with Figures and Boats
Collection Victoria and Albert Museum
Artist Clays, Paul Jean (Belgian painter, 18191900)
Date 1855 (dated)
Signed yes
Description This painting is a typical example of Clays' prolific output of marine paintings. It represents a Dutch or Flemish coast at low tide bathed in the sunlight, with a cliff on the right hand-side, a boat and figures on the beach. Clays combined seascape and genre painting and, like many artists of his generations, was particularly interested in the pictorial rendering of light. Essential characteristics of his art, exemplified in the present painting, are a painstaking brushwork and a palette dominated by blue, ivory and red-brown tones. Clays was attracted from earliest childhood by the sea and developed a style that goes back to the seventeenth century. Paul-Jean Clays was born in Bruges but studied in Paris with Horace Vernet (1789-1863) and the marine artist Théodore Gudin (1802-1880). He later joined the cicle of the mathematician Adolphe Quételet, Director of the Brussels Observatory, which included many of the leading artists and scientists of the time.
Current Accession Number 1578-1869
Inscription front lr 'P. J. Clays 1855'
Subject landscape; marine
Measurements 60.3 x 95.2 cm
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Bequeathed by Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend 1868.
Publications A. Berqueman, Avec J.P. Clays au littoral belge, Brussels, 1946; C.M. Kauffmann, Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, II. 1800-1900, London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, p. 19, cat. no. 49.
Notes Chauncy Hare Townshend (1798-1868) was born into a wealthy family, only son of Henry Hare Townsend of Busbridge Hall, Godalming, Surrey. Educated at Eton and Trinity Hall, Cambridge (BA 1821). Succeeded to the family estates 1827, when he added 'h' to the Townsend name. He had taken holy orders, but while he always referred to himself as 'Rev.' on the title pages of his books, he never practised his vocation... . Very much a dilettante in the eighteenth-century sense, he moved in the highest social and literary circles; a great friend of Charles Dickens (he was the dedicatee of Great Expectations) with whom he shared a fascination of mesmerism... Bulwer Lytton described his life's 'Beau-deal of happiness' as 'elegant rest, travel, lots of money - and he is always ill and melancholy'. Of the many watercolours and British and continental oil paintings he bequeathed to the V&A, the majority are landscapes. He is the first identifiable British collector of early photographs apart from the Prince Consort, particularly landscape photography, and also collected gems and geological specimens.' (Parkinson, Ronald, Catalogue of British Oil Paintings 1820-1860. Victoria & Albert Museum, HMSO, London, 1990. p.xix.)
Rights Owner © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Author Ana Debenedetti



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