Mediterranean Coast Scene with Fishermen and Boats

Oil on canvas

Image size: 12 ½ x 17 ¼ inches (32 x 44 cm)


Claude Joseph Vernet was a French painter known for his Mediterranean harbour scenes. He was also one of the century’s best exponents of tempests and moonlight scenes. This accomplished version of Vernet’s Mediterranean Night depicts the calm evening, following a busy day of fishing. The weary fishermen cook their suppers over campfires, and the whole scene is richly illuminated by the rising moon.


This work is featured in our Moonlight in Paintings and Watercolours exhibition – see the EXHIBITIONS page for more information


Here, luminous clouds float before a full moon. Reflecting the moonlight, the water runs through the center of the scene and directs attention toward a harbour. A ruin and a group by a fire close the symmetrically composed space at either side. Beams from the moon glint off water, the fire glows upon the group conversing on the harbour, and silhouette the boats.

This nocturne’s radiance is created by multiple layers of translucent and opaque paint applied with consummate technical skill. Using the handle of his brush or a palette knife, the artist scraped away top layers of dark color to reveal underlying pinks, golds, and blues in the clouds.