Joseph Vernet settled in Rome in 1734 and remained in Italy for the next twenty years, painting the coastline near Rome and Naples, and hillsides and waterfalls around Tivoli, as well as imaginary views. Visitors on the Grand Tour admired his work, and he gained a following among younger artists in Italy, France, and Britain. This painting is one of many images of rock-bound harbors after Vernet, whose designs were frequently imitated and reinterpreted by painters and printmakers in the last half of the eighteenth century. An arch very similar to the one in the Metropolitan’s painting is represented in an engraving of about 1770 after Vernet, Les Pêcheurs florentins, by Anne Philiberte Coulet (1736–after 1775). Another print after Vernet engraved by F. Basan, Première vue des environs de Naples, includes similar nautical elements. Additionally, a painting very like this one was sold at auction as lot 14 at Christie’s, London, on November 21, 1991 (location unknown). Here the drawing of the figures of fishermen is weak and unconvincing.
[Katharine Baetjer 2012]