Vernet may have been a pupil of the marine painter Adrien Manglard, but his true masters were the earlier specialists of landscape painting, Claude Lorrain, Gaspard Dughet and Salvator Rosa. In Italy by 1734, Vernet quickly established himself as the leading practitioner of imaginary land and seascapes and topographical views, and by 1740, he had an international clientele and reputation. He spent 20 years in Italy, mostly in Rome though with working visits to Naples as well, and became one of the leading view painters to a large British clientele which consisted of collectors making the Grand Tour.
The present lot was painted in 1748, two years after Vernet had become an associate member of the Académie Royale and was permitted to exhibit in the Salon. A superb example of the sort of picturesque harbor scenes that rapidly became the artist's stock in trade, its earliest known owner was Jean-Baptiste-Pierre Le Brun, remembered today as the husband of the painter Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, but an influential figure in his own right -- he was one of Europe's foremost art experts and a pioneering dealer-connoisseur who eventually assumed a position as commissaire-expert in the newly created Musée du Louvre. Vernet's painting appeared in a public auction at which Le Brun was liquidating stock from his business, which he had recently closed. The sale catalogue noted that 'the painting, admirable in all its parts, is of a beautiful harmoniousness, of radiant effect and fine touch, both spiritual and delicate; it has a right to be regarded as one of the most precious works of this great painter'.