19th-century oil on canvas by Belgian artist P. J. Clays; Ships Rafted Along the Scheldt. Painting was gifted to Commodore J. Pierpont Morgan on August 7th 1897 for regatta victory. Mounted into a wood and gesso frame.
Overall Dimensions: 36 1/2” x 31 1/2”
On sight: 21 3/4” x 14 1/2”
In 1851 he made his debut at the Paris Salon and, while he tried to stay in the mainstream, his art was heralded by those who were looking for a change to more realism.He was one of the most esteemed marine painters of his time, and early in his career he substituted a sincere study of nature for the extravagant and artificial conventionality of most of his predecessors. He painted the peaceful life of rivers, the poetry of wide estuaries, the regulated stir of roadsteads and ports. And while he thus broke away from old traditions he also threw off the trammels imposed on him by his master, the marine painter Théodore Gudin (1802–1880). Endeavouring only to give truthful expression to the nature that delighted his eyes, he sought to render the limpid salt atmosphere, the weight of waters, the transparency of moist horizons, the gem-like sparkle of the sky.
We may mention, among others, "The Beach at Ault," "Boats in a Dutch Port," and "Dutch Boats in the Flushing Roads," the last in the National Gallery, London. In the Brussels gallery are "The Port of Antwerp," "Coast near Ostend," and a "Calm on the Scheldt"; in the Antwerp museum, "The Meuse at Dordrecht"; in the Pinakothek at Munich, "The Open North Sea"; in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, "The Festival of the Freedom of the Scheldt at Antwerp in 1863"; in the palace of the king of the Belgians, "Arrival of Queen Victoria at Ostend in 1857"; in the Bruges academy, "Port of Feirugudo, Portugal." Clays was a member of several Academies, Belgian and foreign, and of the Order of Leopold (Belgium), the Legion of Honour, etc. See Camille Lemonnier, Histoire des Beaux-Arts (Brussels, 1887).
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