Topic: Subject or sitter

The composition is reminiscent of Vernet's 18th-Century views of the major French ports. A quick look at Claude-Joseph Vernet demonstrates it is not Malta but Marseilles: he did the same view looking seaward from inside the harbour in his 'Ports de France Series' in 1754 (Musée de la Marine, Paris). Despite immediate waterfront building changes the topography and older structures (fortification in particular) are clearly the same https://bit.ly/3G4uycX

The artist is almost certainly French or at least European given it was painted during the late years of the Napoleonic War. [Group leader: Pieter van der Merwe]

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

Completed, Outcome

This discussion is now closed. The title of this port scene has been changed to ‘Marseilles: interior of the harbour seen from the Canebiere’. The British (English) School attribution has been changed to unknown artist, and (after Ambroise-Louis Garneray) added to the Art UK record. The date of work has been changed to mid-19th C. Pieter’s note has been added to the artwork description in the More Information section.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the discussion. To anyone viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all the comments that led to this conclusion.


Ian Welland,

I would not discount this as an early Turner. The link could be Edward Francis Finden, who completed an engraving of the same port after seeing a drawing(?) by Turner. This association is noted by Lord Byron who visited Valetta in 1809 and 1811. It appears "Dutch" in style and execution but this could all be a red-herring! ...it could be Turner.

Peter Nahum,

It is certainly by an amateur hand and is most probably a copy.

Anton Wegman 01,

I do not know of any Dutch painters working in France in the Napoleonic years.

Jacinto Regalado,

Excellent, Marcie. It is an exact match, so either the picture is after the print or vice versa. The style is more graphic than painterly, very much in keeping with an engraved topographic view.

Yes, well found, and while those are modern reproductions they look like a set. The one below (but this time an original) is another of Marcie's group and by Ambroise Louis Garneray (1783–1857) - which suggests all the others are:


That one is inscribed 'Vue de la ville et du port de Marseille prise de l’hôtel de Ville/Garneray pinx et sculp. / A Paris chez BASSET rue St Jacques N°64' but not dated.

I originally thought this might be another of the group, though not among Marcie's repro copies:


It is described as '1 ère vue de Marseille prise de l’entrée du Port'. and comes from the publication 'Recueil des vues des côtes de France dans l’Océan et dans la Méditerranée / peintes et gravées par M. Louis Garneray, décrites par M. E[tienne] Jouy de l'Académie Francaise' ( C.L.F Panckoucke: Paris 1823-32. The first part appeared in 1823, the second and third in 1832). It faces p.25 of part 3 and a version of our view, identical as to viewpoint, but with different shipping and quay 'clutter' (no bales) and staffage, is after p.26 as ' II ème Vue de Marseille / Prise de la Canebiere', 'del et sculp' by Garneray in both cases.
(The Bibliotheque Nationale copy of the whole book is here: https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k1522365x/f1.item)

Both those are small steelplates however, and the Basset-published one is a coloured aquatint of 390 x 490 mm (image) so we should expect the print relating to ours to be the same size and (from the repro) bearing the title 'Marseille/ Vue de l'interieure du port'.

The repro seems to show the same letters and numbers on the bales on the left as in our painting and I can see how (from that) '18' and an unclearer '13' to the right probably got interpreted as its current frame-label date. I doubt it is and the general quality doesn't look like Garneray: he's not in Vernet's class but better on shipping than the draughtsmanship seems to be in the painting, and it has to date to after the Napoleonic War. Garneray was a naval
P-o-W at Portsmouth, 1806-14.

I suspect it is related to a Basset-published aquatint that is after Garneray, but it would be good to find an original of one to confirm it rather than rush to judgement. Basset was at Rue St Jacques, Paris to 1849.

A great deal of internet searching on mainly French sites has produced one or two originals of the Garneray 'Marseilles from the Hotel de Ville' in the reproduction group identified by Marcie, but not the one we want. Rather surprisingly there are (as yet) no prints after Garneray on the Musee de la Marine site and nothing by him at all on that of the Marseilles museums. He was, however, extraordinarily prolific both as a painter and printmaker so I expect a copy of 'Marseille, Vue de l'interieure du port' (i.e from the Canebiere outwards) from this apparent set of three aquatints likely to be all issued by Basset will turn up in due course. As already mentioned, Basset was a family firm that was at 64 Rue St Jacques, Paris, to 1849 (according to one source), after which the business was taken over by Hocquart, father and son, whose early work (including publishing Garneray prints) was sometimes inscribed 'A Paris chez Hocquart ainé Succ’r de Basset...' .
I had hoped a reportedly before-letter 'Marseilles' by Garneray in the NMM might be at least one of Marcie's set but it turned out to be a Hocquart-issued one of Ancona: someone in the long-ago clearly made a very bad guess!

I recommend this discussion closes. The painting's title should be either 'Marseilles' , 'Marseilles: interieur of the harbour seen from the Canebiere', or something similar, by an unidentified artist after Garneray. 'More information' could include that it appears to be after one of a set of three Garneray aquatints of the port published by Basset before 1849.

A regular puzzle in pictures of cargo bales on quaysides are the 'merchants' marks' that often appear on them. This is a fairly rare engraved sheet of British ones dated 1801, unfortunately without the identities of the people/companies to whom they relate:


Vernet, in his 'Ports de France' series (notably in a view of Rochefort) was among French painters who show them which would have been an obvious precedent (if needed) for Garneray doing so in this instance. While they can 'double' as signatures/dates that's only occasional so there is no reason the apparent (and separated ) 18 and 13 here should be a date for the image and Garneray -as I pointed out above (8/1/22) - could not have done such a view in that year. That his original appears to have been published as an aquatint, and with different cargo, shipping and staffage details to that done as a steelplate in the 'Recueil des vues des côtes de France' part 3, 1832, also suggests it is likely to have been later than that and certainly after his release from English captivity in 1814.

While it would be good to see an original of his aquatint, I think the discussion can close without it.

Kieran Owens,

Well done Marcie on that wonderful engraving find.

Thanks: '...interior of the harbour...' of course, if that option.
Whoever did it 'after Garneray' I don't think it can confidently be left as 'British (English) School': it might be, but given the source print and the scene as French, 'unidentified artist, mid-19th century' would be safer.

The Collection has commented: 'Thank you to Pieter and the other members for their research on this painting. The discussion has provided some fascinating information and we are grateful for their time and effort. We are happy for you to revise the title and artist as suggested and will update our files accordingly.'

Thank you, in that case I suggest:

Unidentified artist (after Ambroise-Louis Garneray)

Title: 'Marseilles: interior of the harbour seen from the Canebiere'

More information:

This appears to be after 'Marseille, Vue de l'interieur du Port', one of three Garneray aquatints of Marseilles published before 1849. Another looks into the harbour in the opposite direction from a higher point to the east. The third is titled 'Vue de la ville et du port de Marseille prise de l’hôtel de Ville'. Only reproductions of the first two have yet been seen but an original of the last is also lettered 'Garneray pinx et sculp. / A Paris chez BASSET rue St Jacques N°64'which suggests all were also engraved by Garneray while the Basset family of print publishers were reportedly at that address to 1849. Two apprently earlier and similar Garneray versions, with differing details, of the present view and that from the Hotel de Ville side of harbour, appeared as small steel plates in part III (1832) of his 'Recueil des vues des côtes de France dans l’Océan et dans la Méditerranée' (Paris, 1823-32).