Quayside Scene (fragment)
circa 1765 - circa 1790
Tapestry, wool and silk, 5 warps per cm
1.86 m (H); 1.9 m (W)
Place of origin
Polesden Lacey, Surrey (Accredited Museum)
Tapestry, wool and silk, 5 warps per cm, Quayside Scene from a set of five Port Scenes, Manufacture Royale d’Aubusson, after a design by Claude Joseph Vernet, c. 1760-1780. Port scene with a man in Oriental dress leaning on a barrel on a quayside where a boat is moored. In the background there are buildings on the other side of the water. The tapestry has an overall yellow colour probably the result of tobacco smoke. There are no borders and the tapestry has been cut from a larger piece.
This ‘Quayside Scene’ may once have been joined to another fragment at Polesden Lacey, a ‘Port Scene (fragment)’ that hangs in the Central Hall (no. 1247023). A complete tapestry including both scenes was in the collection of French and Company in the early twentieth century (Getty Photo Archive no. 0243230). The five tapestry fragments with ‘Port Scenes’ at Polesden Lacey are all cut down from larger tapestries. The series they belong to enjoyed considerable popularity in the late eighteenth century, and at least thirteen different designs of ports are known. The designs were inspired by prints after the painter Joseph Vernet (1714-1789) and his associate Charles François de la Croix (c. 1700-1782) (de Reyniès 2010, pp. 214-5). Vernet specialised in views of real and imagined seascapes and ports, often in exotic locations. The subjects chosen for the tapestry series range from his views of the Ports of France to views in Italy and generic scenes of sailors and fishermen. The ‘Port Scenes’ tapestries tend to include figures in Oriental dress, reflecting Vernet's romantic association of the quayside with voyages to distant lands. The tapestries were made in the French town of Aubusson in the late eighteenth century. Surviving tapestries from the series vary considerably in quality suggesting that a number of different Aubusson workshops wove the designs, and examples have surfaced with four different signatures. The set was probably in production from the mid 1760s until the end of the eighteenth century. Some examples are dated 1776 and 1777. A list of related tapestries can be found in De Reyniès 2010, pp. 214-5. Further examples include a tapestry dated 1777 was sold by Parke-Bernet, New York, 19 March 1949, lot 736, and a pair of fragments from the series sold at Christie’s, Paris, 22 April 2004, lot 645. At least seven different ‘Port Scenes’ passed through the New York dealers French and Company in the early twentieth century (Getty Photo Archive, nos. 0243243, 0243234, 0243236, 0243242, 0243246, 0184458). (Helen Wyld, 2012)
Bequeathed by Margaret Anderson, The Hon. Mrs Ronald Greville (1863-1942) with Polesden Lacey, to the National Trust, in memory of her father, William McEwan (1827-1913).
Polesden Lacey, the Anderson Collection (The National Trust)
Makers and roles
Aubusson, workshop Claude-Joseph Vernet (Avignon 1714 – Paris 1789) , designer
Chevalier, Chevalier and Bertrand, 1988: Dominique Chevalier, Pierre Chevalier and Pascal-François Bertrand, Les Tapisseries d'Aubusson et de Felletin 1457-1791, Paris 1988 de Reyniès, 2010: Nicole de Reyniès, 'The French Tapestries', in Guy Delmarcel, Nicole de Reyniès and Wendy Hefford, The Toms Collection Tapestries of the Sixteenth to Nineteenth Centuries, Zürich 2010, pp. 159-231