Brig off the French coast, 1870
In the centre of the picture is a brig sailing towardsa roadstead. Half visible behind the ship is a French wheeled corvette. It was wash day on board: between two lower masts, countless items of clothing are hungstretch of coast. The churned-up water is rendered milky, as are the sails of the brig. Only a shade lighter is the sky painted. Even though there are hardly any gaps in the cloud cover, light occasionally breaks through and is reflected by the crests of the waves. It is this light that gives lightness to the monochrome picture.
Henri Durand-Brager travelled the African Atlantic coast at a young age and initially wanted to make a career in the navy. He eventually apprentices with the famous French marine painter Eugène Isabey (1803-1886) and in 1840 is commissioned as a marine painter to accompany the retrieval of Napoleon‘s ashes from St Helena. In 1843 he is awarded the Légion d‘honneur. Durand-Brager is held in high esteem by the public with an affinity for the navy, above all because of the combination of his artistic talent and his experience at sea. He is on board a warship during the bombardment of Mogador (1844) and gains a reputation as an outstanding painter of military panoramas. Later he even receives commissions from the Tsar and the Austrian Emperor, which testifies to his international reputation. Durand-Brager is an extremely versatile artist who produced numerous genre, landscape and everyday marine paintings in addition to travel views.