During the American Civil War, the United States warship Kearsarge made headlines after sinking the Confederate raider Alabama off the coast of France. Manet did not witness firsthand the widely-covered event but devoted two paintings to the subject: a scene of the naval battle (Philadelphia Museum of Art) and this picture, prompted by his subsequent visit to the victorious ship at anchor near Boulogne. They were his first depictions of a current event.
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Title:The "Kearsarge" at Boulogne
Artist:Edouard Manet (French, Paris 1832–1883 Paris)
Medium:Oil on canvas
Dimensions:32 1/8 x 39 3/8 in. (81.6 x 100 cm)
Credit Line:Gift of Peter H. B. Frelinghuysen, and Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Richard J. Bernhard Gift, by exchange, Gifts of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Rodgers and Joanne Toor Cummings, by exchange, and Drue Heinz Trust, The Dillon Fund, The Vincent Astor Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Henry R. Kravis, The Charles Engelhard Foundation, and Florence and Herbert Irving Gifts, 1999
Inscription: Signed (lower left): Manet
Gatti (until 1890; sold on March 10, for Fr 2,000, to Boussod, Valadon); [Boussod, Valadon & Cie, Paris, 1890; stock no. 20375; sold by Theo van Gogh on March 10, as "L'Alabama à l'ancre," for Fr 4,000, to Goupy]; Gustave Goùpy, Paris (1890–98; his sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, March 30, no. 20 as "L'Alabama au large de Cherbourg," for Fr 20,000 to Durand-Ruel for Havemeyer); Mr. and Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, New York (1898–his d. 1907); Mrs. H. O. (Louisine W.) Havemeyer, New York (1907–d. 1929); her daughter, Adaline Havemeyer Frelinghuysen, Morristown, N.J. (1929–d. 1963); her son, Peter H. B. Frelinghuysen, Morristown, N.J. (from 1963)
Paris. Galerie Martinet. "Manet," 1865, no. ? (as "La mer, la navire fédéral Kerseage [sic] en rade de Boulogne-sur-mer") [see Manet 1865].
Paris. Avenue de l'Alma. "Tableaux de M. Édouard Manet," May 1867, no. 34 or 45 (as "Bateau de pêche arrivant vent arrière").
New York. Wildenstein. "Manet," February 26–April 3, 1948, no. 15 (as "The 'Kearsarge' at Boulogne," lent by Mrs. P. H. B. Frelinghuysen).
Philadelphia Museum of Art. "Édouard Manet, 1832–1883," November 3–December 11, 1966, no. 63 (as "The Kearsarge at Anchor in Boulogne Harbor [Le Kearsage au large de Boulogne] [Le Steamboat], lent by The Honorable Peter H. B. Frelinghuysen, Washington D. C.).
Art Institute of Chicago. "Édouard Manet, 1832–1883," January 13–February 19, 1967, no. 63.
New York. Wildenstein & Co., Inc. "One Hundred Years of Impressionism: A Tribute to Durand-Ruel," April 2–May 9, 1970, no. 2.
Paris. Galeries nationales du Grand Palais. "Manet, 1832–1883," April 22–August 1, 1983, no. 84 (as "Bateau de pêche arrivant vent arrière [Le "Kearsarge" à Boulogne], lent by a private collection).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Manet, 1832–1883," September 10–November 27, 1983, no. 84.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection," March 27–June 20, 1993, no. A347 (lent by a private collection).
Paris. Galeries nationales du Grand Palais. "Impressionnisme: Les origines, 1859–1869," April 19–August 8, 1994, no. 100.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Origins of Impressionism," September 27, 1994–January 8, 1995, no. 100.
Martigny, Switzerland. Fondation Pierre Gianadda. "Manet," June 5–November 11, 1996, no. 22 (lent by a private collection, New York).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Manet and the American Civil War: The Battle of U.S.S. 'Kearsage' and C.S.S. 'Alabama'," June 3–August 17, 2003, unnumbered cat. (fig. 30).
Art Institute of Chicago. "Manet and the Sea," October 20, 2003–January 19, 2004, no. 12.
Philadelphia Museum of Art. "Manet and the Sea," February 15–May 30, 2004, no. 12.
Amsterdam. Van Gogh Museum. "Manet and the Sea," June 18–September 26, 2004, no. 12.
Edouard Manet. Letter to Burty. July 20 or 21, 1864 [published in Ref. Moreau-Nélaton 1926, vol. 1, p. 61], writes from Boulogne-sur-mer that he went to see the Kearsarge docked in Boulogne.
Edouard Manet. Letter to M. Martinet. January 1865 [published in Ref. Moreau-Nélaton 1926, vol. 1, p. 62], includes it as no. 7, titled "La mer: la navire fédéral Kerseage [sic] en rade de Boulogne-sur-mer," in a list of works that he sent to the Martinet Gallery for the 1865 exhibition.
G. Randon. "L'exposition d'Édouard Manet." Le Journal amusant no. 600 (June 29, 1867), p. 6, illustrates a caricature with the caption, "Bateau de pêche arrivant vent arriére. Quel diable peut donc pousser l'artiste à faire et surtout à nous montrer des machines come ça, quand rien ne l'y oblige?", no. 45 in the 1867 Alma exhibition.
Emile Zola. Éd. Manet: Etude biographique et critique, accompagnée d'un portrait d'Éd. Manet par Bracquemond, et d'une eau-forte d'Éd. Manet, d'après "Olympia". Paris, 1867, p. 38, refers to the painting as "Bateau de pêche arrivant vent arrière" and notes that the magnificent waves testify to the artist's familiarity with and love of the ocean.
Théodore Duret. Histoire d'Édouard Manet et de son œuvre. Paris, 1902, p. 213, no. 83, erroneously calls it "L'Alabama au large de Cherbourg".
Etienne Moreau-Nélaton. Manet raconté par lui-même. Paris, 1926, pp. 61–62, fig. 61, reprints letters written by Manet.
Paul Jamot. "Études sur Manet: Manet peintre de marine et "Le combat du 'Kearsage' et de 'l'Alabama'." Gazette des beaux-arts, 5th ser., 15 (June 1927), pp. 385, 387–89, ill., discusses the letter that Manet wrote to Burty [see Ref. Manet 1864], and proposes that Manet was not looking at the Kearsarge, but at the Alabama; explains the error in titling this picture "L'Alabama au large de Cherbourg" [see Ref. Duret 1902], noting the difference in the placement of the masts on the Kearsarge and Alabama.
A. Tabarant. "Les Manet de la collection Havemeyer." La Renaissance 13 (February 1930), pp. 60, 66–67, 69, ill., notes that it was exhibited at the special exhibition of 1867, at Avenue de l'Alma, under the title "Steamboat"; provides early provenance.
H. O. Havemeyer Collection: Catalogue of Paintings, Prints, Sculpture and Objects of Art. n.p., 1931, pp. 390–91, ill., calls it "L'Alabama au large de Cherbourg", but notes that it is probably the Kearsarge and not the Alabama.
A. Tabarant. Manet, histoire catalographique. Paris, 1931, pp. 112–13, no. 70, calls it "Le Kearsage au large de Boulogne".
Paul Jamot and Georges Wildenstein. Manet. Paris, 1932, vol. I, pp. 16–19, 79, 127, no. 88; vol. 2, fig. 293, call it "Le 'Kearsage' à Boulogne".
Marcel Guérin. L'œuvre gravé de Manet. Paris, 1944, unpaginated, under no. 35, notes that the boat in the engraving "Marine" was taken from this painting.
Joseph C. Sloane. "Manet and History." Art Quarterly 14 (Summer 1951), pp. 94–95, 98, fig. 5, remarks that Manet used practically the same design in this painting as in the "Battle of the Kearsarge and Alabama" (Rouart and Wildenstein no. 76; Philadlephia Museum of Art).
Anne Coffin Hanson. "A Group of Marine Paintings by Manet." Art Bulletin 64 (December 1962), p. 332–35, ill. opp. 331, discusses it in relation to "The Battle of the Kearsarge and the Alabama" (Philadelphia Museum of Art) and to an etching "Marine" (Guérin no. 35) where the boat on the left has been reversed as if directly drawn on a plate from this picture.
John Rewald. "Théo van Gogh, Goupil, and the Impressionists." Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 81 (January 1973), pp. 50–51, fig. 25, notes that Theo van Gogh sold this to Goùpy erroneously titled as "L'Alabama à l'ancre".
Denis Rouart and Daniel Wildenstein. Édouard Manet, catalogue raisonné. Paris, 1975, vol. 1, pp. 13, 84–85, no. 75, ill.
Françoise Cachin inManet, 1832–1883. Ed. Françoise Cachin and Charles S. Moffett. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1983, pp. 221–24, no. 84, ill. (color) [French ed., Paris], suggests that this painting was not no. 34, "Steamboat," in the 1867 Alma exhibition but rather no. 45, "Bateau de pêche arrivante vent arriére".
Françoise Cachin. Manet. [Paris], 1990, p. 149, no. 19, ill., erroneously as in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Louisine W. Havemeyer. Sixteen to Sixty: Memoirs of a Collector. Ed. Susan Alyson Stein. 3rd ed. [1st ed. 1930, repr. 1961]. New York, 1993, pp. 222–23, 333 n. 320.
Susan Alyson Stein inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 223, colorpl. 209.
Gretchen Wold inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, pp. 352–53, no. A347, ill.
Henri Loyrette inOrigins of Impressionism. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1994, pp. 406–7, no. 100, ill. [French ed., Paris, pp. 403–4, no. 100, ill.].
Gary Tinterow in Gary Tinterow and Henri Loyrette. Origins of Impressionism. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1994, pp. 235–36, 248, 426, 467, fig. 289 (color) [French ed., "Impressionnisme: les origines, 1859–1869," Paris, pp. 235–36, 248, 424, fig. 289 (color)].
Ronald Pickvance. Manet. Exh. cat., Fondation Pierre Gianadda. Martigny, 1996, pp. 74, 180–82, 222–23, no. 22, colorpl., remarks that the high horizon line suggests that Manet was drawing on design principles seen in Japanese woodblock prints.
Sylvie Patin. "La collection Havemeyer." 48/14: La revue du Musée d'Orsay no. 5 (Fall 1997), p. 9.
Gary Tinterow in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1999–2000." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 58 (Fall 2000), pp. 5, 143, ill. (color).
Philip Nord. Impressionists and Politics: Art and Democracy in the Nineteenth Century. London, 2000, p. 33.
Juliet Wilson-Bareau with David C. Degener. Manet and the American Civil War: The Battle of the U.S.S. "Kearsage" and C.S.S. "Alabama". Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2003, pp. 6–9, 55–59 nn. 11, 14, pp. 64–67, 69, 71, 74, 77–80, 82, fig. 30 (color) and front cover (color detail), date it late summer or fall 1864, adding that Manet probably painted it in his Paris studio in September of that year, using pencil sketches executed at the scene.
Juliet Wilson-Bareau and David Degener. Manet and the Sea. Exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago. Philadelphia, 2003, pp. 64–67, 105, 109, colorpl. 12, call it "U.S.S. 'Kearsage' off Boulogne—Fishing Boat Coming in before the Wind"; consider "The Steamboat, Seascape with Porpoises" (Philadelphia Museum of Art) a possible pendant.
Joseph J. Rishel and Douglas W. Druick in Juliet Wilson-Bareau and David Degener. Manet and the Sea. Exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago. Philadelphia, 2003, p. xv.
Bill Scott in Juliet Wilson-Bareau and David Degener. Manet and the Sea. Exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago. Philadelphia, 2003, p. 227.
Hugues Wilhelm inWomen in Impressionism: From Mythical Feminine to Modern Woman. Ed. Sidsel Maria Søndergaard. Exh. cat., Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen. Milan, 2006, pp. 282, 303 n. 25.
Ross King. The Judgment of Paris: The Revolutionary Decade That Gave the World Impressionism. New York, 2006, pp. 138, 147.
Colin B. Bailey inRenoir Landscapes: 1865–1883. Exh. cat., National Gallery. London, 2007, p. 102 n. 6.
Richard Kendall inNineteenth-Century European Paintings at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Ed. Sarah Lees. Williamstown, Mass., 2012, vol. 2, pp. 516–17, 519 nn. 11, 12, under no. 222, compares it to Monet's "Seascape, Storm" (1866, Clark Art Institute, Williamstown) and notes that Monet may have seen The Met's picture in Manet's studio after the two were introduced in 1866; states that Martinet 1865 may have actually occurred in 1864.
Chantal Duverget inSignac: Les couleurs de l'eau. Ed. Marina Ferretti-Bocquillon. Exh. cat., Musée des Impressionnismes Giverny. Paris, 2013, p. 207.
George T. M. Shackelford inMonet: The Early Years. Exh. cat., Kimbell Art Museum. Fort Worth, 2016, pp. 114–17, fig. 100 (color), notes the picture's "very conscious artificiality" and its homage to Japanese prototypes.
Juliet Wilson-Bareau and Genevieve Westerby inManet Paintings and Works on Paper at the Art Institute of Chicago. Ed. Gloria Groom and Genevieve Westerby. Chicago, 2019, under nos. 10–11 [https://publications.artic.edu/manet/reader/manetart/section/140038].
Samuel Rodary inManet Paintings and Works on Paper at the Art Institute of Chicago. Ed. Gloria Groom and Genevieve Westerby. Chicago, 2019, under no. 3 [https://publications.artic.edu/manet/reader/manetart/section/140029].
David Pullins. Manet: Three Paintings from the Norton Simon Museum. Exh. cat., Frick Collection. New York, 2019, pp. 31, 40 n. 17.
Laura D. Corey and Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen. "Visions of Collecting." Making The Met, 1870–2020. Ed. Andrea Bayer with Laura D. Corey. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2020, p. 266 n. 75.
During the U.S. Civil War the Union ship Kearsarge attacked and sank the Confederate ship Alabama near the French coast in June 1864. This incident received much attention in Europe and was the subject of Manet's first painting of a contemporary event, The Battle of the Kearsarge and the Alabama (Rouart and Wildenstein no. 76; Philadelphia Museum of Art). Shortly after, Manet visited Boulogne, where the Kearsarge was docked, and painted a watercolor (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Dijon) on which this painting is probably based.
In an engraving of the same year, Manet reused the boat in the foreground of this picture (see Guérin 1944).
The spelling of this ship in English is "Kearsarge" and in French is "Kearsage".
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