La Ferté

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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It is likely that Bonington made this around 1825-7 at La Ferté, on the estuary of the river Somme in northern France. He probably painted it on location using a wet-in-wet technique – painting directly onto wet paint rather than building up layers or glazes over time – that enabled him to recreate the spontaneity of watercolour in oils. Broad horizontal brushstrokes evoke an expansive blue sky. Vertical strokes create a bank of clouds and a suggestion of rain in the distance. Some details, such as the seated woman on the right, may have been added later in the studio. Bonington’s parents were English but he spent much of his life in France, travelling extensively in Normandy and Picardy. The freshness and immediacy of his painting was particularly admired by French artists, such as Eugène Delacroix, and later by the Impressionists.

The National Gallery, London



La Ferté


about 1825


Oil on fibre board


H 16.7 x W 27.9 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the National Gallery, 2012.

Work type



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The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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