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Title Nymphs Bathing: The Time is Morning
Alternative Title Morning, a Sea View with Nymphs Bathing; Bord de mer avec baigneuses; The Bay of Genoa
Original Translation Une marine avec baigneuses: l'heure du jour est le matin
Collection Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle
Artist Vernet, Claude-Joseph (French painter and draftsman, 1714-1789)
Date 1771 (dated)
Signed yes
Description Vernet was famous for his marine paintings. Like this one, most were coastal views looking out to a sea adorned with sailing ships from a foreground animated with figures. He was skilled in combining the neo-classical tenets of academic painting with the observation of natural reality. Here, for example, the composition appears formal yet the detail in the trees and rocks is quite naturalistic. At first the nude bathers appear nymph-like, but by the remnants of their clothes we see they are contemporary eighteenth-century women. In the background too, are eighteenth-century sailing ships and the walls of a port.
Current Accession Number B.M.280
Former Accession Number No. 337
Inscription front lr 'J. Vernet. 1771.'
Subject landscape; figure; marine
Measurements 65.5 x 97.5 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Bequeathed by the founders John and Joséphine Bowes 1885.
Provenance Probably one of two paintings commissioned by M. Fagel, 1869, 4800L.; purchased by an unidentified buyer at the Greffiers Fagel sale, London, 22 May 1801, lot 35, 49 guineas; purchased by John Bowes from the collection of the Rt. Hon. P.Thomson, 1840, £53 16s.
Principal Exhibitions Salon, Paris, 1771, cat. no. 43; Loan Collection of Pictures by French and British Artists of the 18th Century, Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, 1902, cat. no. 12; Loan Exhibition of Pictures from the Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, Agnews, London, 1952, cat. no. 48; Some Paintings from the Bowes Museum, Arts Council (touring), 1959, cat. no. 5 as The Bay of Genoa; Paintings from the Bowes Museum, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter, Arts Council, 1962, cat. no. 8; Joseph Vernet, 1714-1789, Musée de la Marine, Palais de Chaillot, Paris, 1976 -1977, cat. no. 56.
Publications Bayle, L.M., Joseph Vernet, 1714-1789, Paris, 1976, pp. 94-95; Buchanan, W., Memoirs of Painting, with a Chronological History of the Emportation of Pictures by the Great Masters into England in the French Revolution, Vol.1, London, 1824, p. 304; Conran, E., et al, The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle and London, 1992, p. 15; Ingersoll-Smouse, F., Joseph Vernet, Vol.2, Paris, 1926, p. 21 no. 932.

Recorded in John Bowes' catalogue as no. 337, 'View of the Bay of Genoa. The Mole is seen in the distance in the background. A Ship with all sails set and a Felucca on the left. On the right a number of females bathing.'

Although the scene has formerly been identified as the bay of Genoa, the image does not appear accurate. Vernet may simply have composed an imagined location. He painted a large number of Mediterranean ports, many of which had harbour walls and a lighthouse like the ones in this painting. The pendant also sold at the Greffiers Fagel sale, London, 22 May 1801, lot 36 as Evening, a Seaport with Groups of Fishermen, £55 13s, is now missing. It is not clear whether the two paintings sold to the same buyer.

Rights Owner The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, Co. Durham
Author Dr Anne L. Cowe



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