Claude-Joseph Vernet works in Rome from 1734. Interested in the landscape and animation of the shores, he is influenced by the art of le Lorrain, French resident in Rome during the previous century. Their views do not claim to realism and cannot be located.
In 1750, Abel-François Poisson makes his Grand Tour. Directeur des Bâtiments du Roi, he is acting on behalf of Louis XV somehow as a minister of culture. Brother of la Pompadour, he will become marquis de Marigny in 1754. He manages to convince Vernet that his know how can also be used for topographical paintings useful to the king illustrating the seaports of France and their occupational. This series of fifteen paintings made from 1753 to 1765 will be the masterpiece of the artist.
Outside this prestigious commission, Vernet continues until the end of his career to propose imaginary landscapes to his customers. His art cannot be compared to the vedutisti, Canaletto in Venice and Panini in Rome, whose occasional capricci cover an intention of architectural design or urban planning.
On July 6 in London, Sotheby's sells a pair of oils on canvas 72 x 99 cm each, painted by Vernet in 1752 in Rome shortly before he returned to France, lot 40 estimated £ 3M. These paintings compare the colors of sunset and moonlight in a Mediterranean harbor in a pre-romantic sensitivity that is rare at that time.