Louis GARNERAY (Paris 1783 – 1857 Paris)
"Sunset in Navarino" Oil on canvas (relined), 52.1 x 78.5 cm, in its original frame An old label on the back of the chassis “GARNEREY”, a second with inventory number “3662”, on the canvas an ink inscription “g.c.”
Full texts with photographs available on website gallery
- Possibly collection M. Didot de Saint-Marc, Paris ; his sale after death, Bonnefons Laviale & David, 30 November & 1er December 1835, at the home of deceased 17 quai Malaquais à Paris: GARNEREY (M.) – Escadres française et anglaise, sur la rade de Navarin, lot 54;
- Private collection Paris, by descent from the first third of the XXth century and until 2023.
Born in Paris on February 19, 1783, where he died on September 11, 1857, Louis Garneray was a French privateer, naval painter, designer, engraver and writer. His books tell the story of his adventurous life, he was a precursor of the maritime adventure novel.
Son of a fairly well-known painter, his name was written with an "e" (Garnerey), he modified it so as not to be confused with the rest of the family, all painters. His father exhibited at the Paris Salon under the name of Garnerey père (F.-J.), his brother under the name of Garnerey (Hippolyte).
He was thirteen years old when he joined the navy as a pilot at the urging of his cousin, Beaulieu-Leloup, captain of the frigate La Forte, and set sail from Rochefort to give substance to his dreams of adventure and glory. He left for the Indian Ocean with the Sercey frigate division to which the Forte belonged. His entire maritime career took place in the Indian Ocean with the Ile de France (currently Mauritius) and incidentally the Bourbon Island (Reunion) as bases. After numerous naval battles, he joined the "Confidence" of the privateer Robert Surcouf as an ensign and thus participated in the capture of the "Kent", the most famous exploit of the privateer, in 1800. It was the only occasion for which Garneray will earn some money as a sailor. He lived an adventurer's life with Surcouf and Dutertre.
Prisoner of the English in 1806, he spent the next eight years in the hell of the pontoons in Plymouth. He took advantage of this confinement to paint, which allowed him to improve his ordinary life, thanks to orders from a British art dealer. He was released in 1814 at the end of the war, on his return from the United Kingdom he did not find employment in the commercial navy and remained in Paris where he devoted himself to painting.
Employed by the Duke of Angoulême, then Grand Admiral of France, he became his appointed painter by competition in 1817. He was therefore the first official painter of the Navy, a body which would only be formed a few years later with Gudin and Booed and which still exists within the national navy. Between 1821 and 1830, he traveled to numerous ports in France where he made countless sketches which would serve as the basis for engravings or paintings. It also illustrates the Battle of Navarino on several occasions, composition which will prove to be very successful.
In 1833, he was appointed director of the Rouen museum and received the Legion of Honor in 1852.
He exhibited works at the Paris salons for more than forty years, from 1815 to 1857.
The painting we present is unpublished, it had been kept in the same collection since the first part of the XXth century, which could explain its relative anonymity.
The subject of the Battle of Navarino returns several times in the work of Louis Garneray, three well-known large formats are kept in French museums. The one which would have been executed the earliest, "La Bataille de Navarin", circa 1830, commissioned by the Ministry of the Navy, Garneray had been sent on site in Navarino, is today kept at the Musée de Narbonne (canvas 225 x 368 cm, inv. 855.6.1).
The second, "La Bataille de Navarin", dated 1831, kept at the Château de Versailles (canvas, 179 x 202 cm, inv. MV.1795), one of these two paintings is the one presented at the Salon de Paris 1831, under number 856 (Bataille de Navarin, site peint d'après nature, vue prise du sud de l'île de Spactérie).
The third presented at the Salon de Paris in 1853, under number 511, "Épisode de la Bataille de Navarin" (canvas, 146.4 x 195 cm), on deposit at the musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes.
The format of our painting is common at Garneray, it cannot be excluded that it comes from a pair, like that of the same dimensions acquired by the Gallery in 2016 ("Le combat naval d'Augusta" and "La IIIème Bataille d'Ouessant").
The first plan of the work, painted with details purposes, testifies to the rout of the Ottoman fleet is typical of the artist manner. We notice two dolphins above the sailing boat, bottom left of the composition. In the background, the ships (there are ten, the correct count) and frigates at anchor are for some identified by their flags, these are indeed French, Russian and British (the white flag designates French ships, blue the English, white with blue saltire the Russians). In his composition, at sunset, the artist undoubtedly wanted to bring a more poetic touch in contrast to the violent combat scene which preceded.
Comparisons made with the five sketches unsigned, commissioned by the Sèvres factory to Garneray in 1843 for the Queen's casket, on marine subjects by the Prince of Joinville, allow us to date our painting from the years 1830/45. These paintings, known through a black and white photograph and which never left the factory, are a revelation for the study of ours.
As for "Le combat naval d’Augusta" acquired in 2016, of dimensions close to our painting and which will have generated the large format of the château de Versailles, photographs found of two paintings representing the Battle of Navarino (fig.3 & fig.4) (location unknown, we notice reductions in their composition), suggest a possible existence of a large format painted by Garneray.