View of a Church
Topic: Subject or sitter

Does anyone recognise this small port town view? It is likely to be on the Atlantic coast of France (southern Brittany) or further down towards La Rochelle?

John Everett's study for it is also on Your Paintings:

Pieter van der Merwe, Maritime Subjects, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

Jade Audrey King,

The title of this painting has been changed to 'La Rochelle: The Old Church of Saint Nicolas, from the Harbour', and a painting description added accordingly.

This amend will appear on the Your Paintings website by the end of July 2015. Thank you to all for participating in this discussion. To those viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all comments that led to this conclusion.


John McGowan,

I am almost certain that the curved roof "church" building in this painting is what is now a hotel ; Buen Hotel De Dos Estrellas -
Ibis La Rochelle Vieux Port

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Well done Andrea! It looks to me that when the painting was made the harbour extended up to Quai de la Georgette and that since then that portion has been filled in with modern development. If we could find out from old maps when this happened that would provide a latest possible date for the painting (or at least the sketch).

Many thanks to both: that's entirely consistent.

Our database entry [BHC1859] has now been changed to

(Title) 'La Rochelle: the old church of St Nicolas, from the harbour'

(Description) The view is east across the Place de la Motte Rouge, which drops back from the corner of the inner harbour at La Rochelle at the south end of the Quai Valin. The old parish church of St Nicolas, founded in the 13th century and much damaged in the 16th, was rebuilt in late baroque form in 1658. From 1887, after a new parish church was built on another site, it was converted to a customs warehouse, later into shops, and finally into a tourism hotel in 1978. Today the church tower has a plain slated pyramidal roof, without the short central spire shown here by Everett and in a preliminary version, which is BHC1409.

I'll set you another one shortly! Probably also La Rochelle, but trickier...

Tim Williams,

I'm very pleased Everett has had some exposure via Art Detective - one of his dazzle paintings was used to publicise the launch in the Guardian.

My MA thesis was on dazzle/camouflage and its relationship with contemporary art and culture - if I recall correctly, some of the pictures that were in Everett's dazzle camouflage exhibition (catalogue in the NAL) may have been mistitled subsequently. This was all of ten years ago now, but perhaps one day I will find some time to revisit the subject.

We've just had a good showing of some of Everett's dazzle drawings in a small temporary war art display here (dismantled) in the Queen's House, but usually have some of his oils up -though the whole House will close for a refurbishment late July-to May 2016, ahead of its 400th anniversary (1616). Gwen Yarker also has a show in train on him for the Dorset County Museum, though I think mainly on his Dorset stuff of which they have a collection, but has been doing a lot of work on him over some time. Some more will be in 'Art and the War at Sea 1914-45' which is a book we have coming out (ed Christine Riding) with Lund Humphries in September.

Just to pick up on Andrew's also useful comments and links. The church is clearly marked (but not named) on the detailed map in his Voyage Phileas Fogg link, and Everett's view is towards it across both the square in front and the 'Basin a flot interieur' of the harbour, which has not been filled in but is today a yacht basin, as shown on the streetview link (the second of the that Andrea supplied in the first response above).

Osmund Bullock,

Ha, ha...well done, well done! I spent some fruitless hours on this last night, but took quite the wrong approach, ignoring La Rochelle and looking for Baroque harbourside churches, preferably pink!