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The picture was commissioned by Madame de Pompadour’s brother, the marquis de Marigny, after he had become Minister for the Arts under Louis XV, and was painted while Vernet was living in Marseille, between October 1753 and September 1754. Shipwrecks were a favourite subject of the artist, allowing him to invest his seascapes with emotional dramatic content. The present scene demonstrates man’s helplessness in the face of Nature. According to some contemporary critics, including Diderot, the excellence of Vernet’s figure drawing and his mastery of gesture and expression brought such works close to the admired genre of history painting.

The Wallace Collection



A Storm with a Shipwreck




oil on canvas


H 87 x W 137 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

acquired by Richard Seymour-Conway, 4th Marquess of Hertford, 1869; bequeathed to the nation by Lady Wallace, 1897

Work type



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The Wallace Collection

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