This moonlit view features many of the usual features of Sebastian Pether’s work: a painterly river, mountain scenery and the incorporation of classical gothic ruins in an attractive though artificial style. The ruins in the foreground and city in the background have been painstakingly depicted in meticulous detail. On the bank in the foreground, and out on the river itself, we see three night fishermen silhouetted against the calm waters.
Pether has cleverly balanced the light emanating from the moon, and the reflection of this light glistening on the river surface below, to create the mysterious atmosphere of the moonlit evening. Indeed, he has skilfully employed the strong use of chiaroscuro effects of light and shade in this painting so that the eye is drawn to the full moon as it illuminates the sky.
It is undeniably a work of Romanticism, a style that was popular around the beginning of the nineteenth century.
Sebastian Pether was an English landscape-painter. He was the eldest son of Abraham Pether; he was a pupil of his father, and followed him in subject matter.
Sebastian Pether married young and had a large family of nine children. He was well-educated, and even claimed to have first proposed the idea of a stomach-pump to the surgeon Andrew Jukes. Pether had few opportunities to create commissioned works. His works were not often exhibited, forcing him to work for dealers to maintain a living.
During the last years of his life he lost three children to consumption and another to lockjaw but his eldest son William became a mosaic artist. Pether died at Battersea of an inflammatory attack on 14 March 1844 at York Cottage, Battersea Fields.
A subscription was raised for his family and a charity was raised for his surviving daughter in a November 1876 issue of the London Times, who was said to be destitute after ruining her eyesight working as a needlewoman.