Horace Vernet (1789-1863). Joseph Vernet tied to a mast to study the effect of a storm. C. 1822. Oil on canvas, 275 x 336 cm. Musée Calvet, Avignon.
It was from the port of Marseille that Vernet sailed for Rome. His ship was caught in a terrible storm near the island of Sardinia. The increasing strength of the wind was already giving warning to the crew about the impending danger, but this danger proved to be good fortune for our young painter. He requested and succeeded to have himself tied to the mainmast on the bridge, and there, tossed about in all directions, continually enveloped by the billows, if he was not able to draw any of the effects of the angry sea, he saw them, engraved them in his memory which never forgot anything that he had seen; and it is perhaps to the experience of this storm that we owe the great number and the great variety of his paintings representing these sublime accidents of nature.
- Letter by Mr. Pitra, december 1789. Trans. George Levitine.