Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level H

The Steamboat - Ocean

Photograph
1856 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

In its extreme economy of compositional elements The Steamboat is unique among Le Gray's seascapes. The lack of clouds, and the horizon blurred by sea mist, creates an environment in which the small vessel at the precise centre seems to sail into the unknown. Comparing this scene with his more visually dense seascapes suggests that Le Gray conceived of the set as a suite of contrasting images, each with a different emotional impact. As an artist, he knew when to apply the drama of a turbulent sky and could easily have added one here from a second negative, as he had done elsewhere. Yet he preferred to leave it barren to enhance the feeling of isolation and vulnerability.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Albumen print from collodion on glass negative
Brief Description
19thC, Townshend Bequest; Le Gray, Gustave. Untitled (Seascape), c. 1856-59
Physical Description
Photograph of a boat on the horizon of sea and sky
Dimensions
  • Image height: 321mm
  • Image width: 417mm
  • Sheet height: 345mm
  • Sheet width: 439mm
Subjects depicted
Summary
In its extreme economy of compositional elements The Steamboat is unique among Le Gray's seascapes. The lack of clouds, and the horizon blurred by sea mist, creates an environment in which the small vessel at the precise centre seems to sail into the unknown. Comparing this scene with his more visually dense seascapes suggests that Le Gray conceived of the set as a suite of contrasting images, each with a different emotional impact. As an artist, he knew when to apply the drama of a turbulent sky and could easily have added one here from a second negative, as he had done elsewhere. Yet he preferred to leave it barren to enhance the feeling of isolation and vulnerability.
Bibliographic Reference
Ebloussants reflets. Normandie Impressionniste - Rouen Rouen: musées des Beaux-Arts, 2013. ISBN: 9782711860623.
Collection
Accession Number
67997

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record createdFebruary 6, 2004
Record URL