Fishing boat at sunrise, undated
Already during his studies of history painting at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, Théodore Gudin joined Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) and Théodore Géricault (1791-1824) stylistically and later became himself a protagonist of French Romanticism celebrated throughout Europe. Gudin‘s artistic life theme is the sea, which he depicts in all its facets. In 1830, Gudin was appointed official painter to the French navy, and in the same year he set off on the Algerian campaign to illustrate the highlights of the conquest by the French troops. Back in Paris, he processed the impressions gathered during the trip in the studio and exhibited them highly successfully at the Paris Salon from 1831. This peaceful, atmospheric morning mood with the departure of a southern fishing boat for the fishing grounds is one of Gudin‘s more intimate travel impressions from the Mediterranean, in which his painterly sensibility is particularly well expressed. It is painted in fine glazed brushstrokes in softly merging pastel shades. Silently, the xebec glides through the quietly rippling sea; a pair of fish swims ahead of it. The impasto-painted sails of the central ship are already bathed in the warm, peach-colored light of the sunrise, whose color spectrum is also reflected in the gentle waves. The vast sea is not perceived here as a place of terror, but as an aesthetic revelation of a more beautiful, simple, authentic life. The overarching pictorial theme is the harmonious bond between man and nature – the spiritual experience of nature being a central theme of Romanticism.