Coastal Scene in Moonlight

The boats and figures in this imagined Italian harbor are illuminated by cool moonlight, the warm glow of the fire, and the pale gleam from the lighthouse lamp. Vernet frequently combined realistic elements observed during his travels through Italy to create fictitious scenes. Paintings like these were immensely popular with English aristocrats on the Grand Tour—a popular cultural pilgrimage through Europe—perhaps because they evoked memories of visits to similar locations along the Italian coast.

Claude-Joseph Vernet

French, 1714–1789

Coastal Scene in Moonlight


Oil on canvas

32 x 51 1/2 in. (81.3 x 130.8 cm)

Acquired by the Clark, 1977