Ports in the 18th centurye century

Ports in the 18th century<sup>e</sup> century

  • Second view of the port of Bordeaux, taken from Château Trompette.

    VERNET Joseph (1714 - 1789)

  • First sight of Toulon, seen from the pont-neuf taken at the corner of the artillery park.

    VERNET Joseph (1714 - 1789)

  • View of the port of La Rochelle.

    VERNET Joseph (1714 - 1789)

  • Interior of the port of Marseille.

    VERNET Joseph (1714 - 1789)

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Title: Second view of the port of Bordeaux, taken from Château Trompette.

Author : VERNET Joseph (1714 - 1789)

Creation date : 1759

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 165 - Width 263

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas

Storage location: Naval Museum website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - All rights reserved

Picture reference: 86-001981-01

Second view of the port of Bordeaux, taken from Château Trompette.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - All rights reserved

To close

Title: First sight of Toulon, seen from the pont-neuf taken at the corner of the artillery park.

Author : VERNET Joseph (1714 - 1789)

Creation date : 1755

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas

Storage location: Naval Museum website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - All rights reserved

Picture reference: 90-000976 / 5OA2

First sight of Toulon, seen from the pont-neuf taken at the corner of the artillery park.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - All rights reserved

To close

Title: View of the port of La Rochelle.

Author : VERNET Joseph (1714 - 1789)

Creation date : 1762

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas

Storage location: Naval Museum website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - All rights reserved

Picture reference: 86-001977 / 5OA11

View of the port of La Rochelle.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - All rights reserved

To close

Title: Interior of the port of Marseille.

Author : VERNET Joseph (1714 - 1789)

Creation date : 1754

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 165 - Width 265

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas

Storage location: Naval Museum website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - All rights reserved

Picture reference: 90-000977 / 5OA3

Interior of the port of Marseille.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - All rights reserved

Publication date: December 2012

Professor of modern history at the University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis.

Historical context

The rise of major French ports in the Age of Enlightenment

The XVIIIe century was marked by urban growth (the kingdom gained nearly 8 million inhabitants between 1715 and 1789) and the development of maritime trade. Marseille, which made up for the demographic losses of the plague of 1720, and Bordeaux, whose population went from 50,000 to 110,000 inhabitants, were then the two major ports of French foreign trade.

Bordeaux is experiencing remarkable growth thanks to transatlantic trade, particularly with the “Sugar Isles” (the West Indies). The Quai des Chartrons and its international trading houses became the symbol of the prosperity of the ports of Ponant (ports on the Atlantic coast).
It is in this context that Abel François Poisson de Vandières, Marquis de Marigny, Superintendent of Buildings, Arts, Gardens and Manufactures under Louis XV, in 1753 ordered from the painter Joseph Vernet the series of “ports of France”, ie twenty- four paintings, each paid for 6,000 pounds, fifteen of which were completed before 1765.

Image Analysis

The artist and the royal commission

Brother of the Marquise de Pompadour, the Marquis de Marigny then played a decisive role in artistic production both by protecting artists and by promoting royal commissions. He asks Joseph Vernet to paint with precision the ports of the kingdom. He noticed it during a trip to Rome in 1750 and notably knows his mastery of veduta. It is these urban landscapes with in the foreground scenes of everyday life painted with a lot of realism that contributed to the painter's success with people then known as “of quality” who traveled to Italy. To convince the king, he wrote to Louis XV: "His talents, which can be of great use in a State which has the advantage of containing within its bosom the most beautiful and the most convenient ports, must make His Majesty to attach to his service the most capable of representing them on canvas. "

In the case of Toulon, a very example of the military port and arsenal, Vernet had to paint three paintings corresponding to the different viewing angles required. Their large size (8 x 5 feet, or 273 x 165 cm) also allows for precision of detail. In "Inside the port of Marseille"(The two paintings devoted to the Phocaean port open the series), painted from the top of the Clock pavilion which dominates the quay, in the background we see a ship shot down in hull for inspection of its hull. In the crowd of onlookers who crowd around the port staff and the bundles of goods from all over the world unloaded in this "world port" of the XVIIIe century, in the words of Charles Carrière, Joseph Vernet has chosen to represent his wife and son (his family accompanies him on the field).

However, the artist has sometimes taken some liberties with reality in his representation of port infrastructure. At the time, La Rochelle saw its development hampered by the silting up of the port. But the painter preferred to paint the activity and dynamism of the port.

Interpretation

Opening up to maritime horizons

This royal order is remarkably documented, because the Marquis de Marigny not only provided it with very precise specifications, port by port, table by table, but also asked Joseph Vernet for regular activity reports where this The latter was to specify the progress of his work: observations, selected sites, sketches… If the order remained unfinished - ten paintings were not produced - the whole remains remarkable for its scale.

The series of ports in France testifies to the interest of the monarchy for maritime horizons and its ambitions in this area, while Louis XV and Louis XVI in fact know very little about the sea - the former only went to Le Havre , the second in Cherbourg. Faced with the formidable naval, commercial and colonial power of Great Britain, whose show of force was brilliant during the Seven Years' War (1756-1763), the royal power wanted to demonstrate the dynamism of its navy and its ports. This is especially true in the case of a military port like Toulon. The royal order also echoes the will of the Enlightenment technicians (General Financial Control, inspectors of manufactures, corps des Ponts et Chaussées) to measure the whole of the territory, to develop its infrastructure and economic potential. All these paintings are in their own way manifestations of 18th century taste.e century for field surveys and serialization of knowledge.

  • Bordeaux
  • Marseilles
  • La Rochelle
  • sea
  • Harbor
  • absolute monarchy
  • plague
  • Provence
  • Toulon
  • Seven Years' War (1756-1763)
  • trade

Bibliography

Luc BAYLE (dir.), Joseph Vernet (1714-1789), catalog of the exhibition at the Musée de la Marine, October 15, 1976 - January 9, 1977, Paris, Musée national de la Marine, 1976.

Laurent MANŒUVRE and Éric RIETH, Joseph Vernet (1714-1789). Ports of France, Paris, Arthese, 1994.

Florence INGERSOLL-SMOUSE, Joseph Vernet, marine painter, 1714-1789. Critical study followed by a catalog raisonné of his painted work, Paris, Étienne Bignou, 1926.

Charles CARRIÈRE, Marseilles merchants in the 18th century. Contribution to the study of maritime economies. Marseille, A. Robert, 1973.

To cite this article

Pierre-Yves BEAUREPAIRE, “Ports in the XVIIIe century "

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