Bay of Naples

Bay of Naples
Claude-Joseph Vernet (French, 1714-1789)
Oil on canvas 
28-1/2 x 38 in. (72.4 x 96.5 cm) 
Credit Line:
The Norton Simon Foundation 
Accession Number:
© The Norton Simon Foundation 
On View

Signed and dated by the most important marine painter of the eighteenth century, this scene is executed with Vernet’s characteristic delicacy and atmospheric light. The artist spent twenty years in Italy, many of them in Naples, and his views of the bay were popular with English travellers and members of French diplomatic circles. His election in 1743 to Rome’s public art academy, the Accademia di San Luca, indicates the high regard accorded him.

When Vernet painted this tranquil scene, Naples was a thriving center of art and commerce, and a great draw to European travelers on the Grand Tour. With picturesque views like this one, Vernet catered to wealthy tourists’ desire for souvenirs of the beguiling port city. Anecdotal elements, such as the passengers entering the canopied boat, add human interest to his compositions.


Mrs. Hannah Entwisle, The Oaks, Sunninghill, Berkshire, England, Estate (sale, London, Christie’s, 1 February 1908, lot 148, as A Coast Scene, with figures embarking, to);
[Alfred H.] Hardcastle, by descent to;
Mrs. Loyd Hardcastle, Hawkhurst, Kent, England (sale, London, Christie’s, 12 July 1963, lot 48, ill., as A Coastal View with Figures Embarking on a Barge near a Rock Arch with Shipping and a Fort in the Background, to);
Douglas, buying for;
[Duveen Brothers, New York, stock no. 30444, sold 1965 to];
The Norton Simon Foundation.

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