Richard Parkes Bonington (1802-1828)
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Richard Parkes Bonington (1802-1828)

The harbour, Le Havre

Richard Parkes Bonington (1802-1828)
The harbour, Le Havre
signed 'RP Bonington.' (lower right)
pencil and watercolour with scratching out
10½ x 7¾ in. (26.7 x 19.7 cm.)
Mme. Delessert, Paris.
with Spink, London, 1978.
New Haven, Connecticut, Yale Center for British Art, Richard Parkes Bonington: "On the Pleasure of Painting", 13 November 1991 - 19 January 1992, no. 8.
Special notice

VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium
Sale room notice
Please note the measurements for this watercolour have been inverted in the catalogue.
Please note that this lot has been requested for exhibition at The University of Michigan Museum of Art from September 2009 to January 2010.

Lot Essay

This view, traditionally identified as Dunkirk in fact depicts the port of Le Havre, whose entrance is guarded by the fortified tower, built by François 1er that can be seen in the distance.

Bonington visited Normandy for the first time in 1821 and in April the following year exhibited at the Salon for the first time, both watercolours shown were subjects inspired by this trip: View of Lillebonne and View of Le Havre (their current whereabouts unknown). This present watercolour was also a result of this trip.

Following his success at the Salon Bonington was introduced to Mme Delessert (1799-1891) by his drawing master, Baron Antoine-Jean Gros (1771-1835), who ran a highly successful studio in the Institut de France. Mme Delessert held one of the most progressive salons in Paris in the Faubourg Saint Germain and her husband was one of Paris' most important financiers. The present work was almost certainly bought by the Delesserts directly from the artist.

It is known that a rift occurred between Bonington and Baron Gros just before the trip to Normandy, although the cause is not known. However, reliable witnesses such as Delacroix and Huet note that the master and pupil had certainly had a reconciliation before the autumn of 1822. It was after this date that Bonington ceased to attend Gros's studio.

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