Paddle steamer in a storm, before 1863
A paddle steamer battles its way through the high waves of a stormy sea. The atmosphere is defined by deep dark clouds in the background and the sketchy white crests of the waves, through which the movement of the water becomes tangible. The picture is characterised by a small palette of colours that unites the spectacle of nature on the water and in the air. Only the red of the steamer‘s hull breaks the tonality. The ship is powerfully staged, which at the time of the painting‘s creation was considered highly advanced because it could navigate against the direction of the wind.
Little is known about the life of the Swiss painter Louis Mennet. He was born in Geneva in 1829 and was taught by the landscape painters François Diday (1802-1877) and Alexandre Calame (1810-1864). Although his teachers were not specialists in seascapes, he concentrated on marine painting. He is active in his home town, in Monniaz and in Begnins. A study trip to Normandy is known. Mennet marries Julie Delavaux, who has inherited Martherey Castle at Lake Geneva. It is only after Mennet‘s early death that his works are presented five times in the rotational exhibitions of the Swiss Art Association.
The painting is signed lower right „L. Mennet á mon ami Eynard“. Jean-Gabriel Eynard (1775-1863) was a Swiss banker who financially supported the Greek revolutionaries and participated in the founding and establishment of the National Bank of Greece after the successful Greek War of Independence (1821-1829).