The docks teem with activity: men gamble in a dark corner as others receive approaching vessels. Lush strokes describe moonlight casting a warm glow on tranquil waters. Subtle lighting generates an atmosphere that is amplified by the weathered condition of the canvas.
This imagined view is an amalgam of identifiable components. The lighthouse is based on an actual 17th-century structure in Naples Harbor to which several painters ascribed a symbolic meaning by isolating it from its topographic context. An anomalous character in this crowd—the gentleman in a red cap at lower left—may have been borrowed from Salvator Rosa’s “Figurine” etching series, which provided inspiration for many later artists.
Its pendant, The Storm, is displayed elsewhere in the museum.
Written by Katrina Greene
Andrew W. Mellon Post-Baccalaureate Curatorial Fellow, 2009–11
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