June 3rd, 2017 Auction Highlight; Ambroise-Louis Garneray's Naval Paintings May 26 2017
Born in Paris on February 19th, 1783, Ambroise-Louis Garneray was one of the foremost French Corsair painters. The son of Jean-Louis Garneray, who was painter to the king and studied under Jacques- Louis David, art was inevitably in the young Garneray’s blood. Encouraged by his cousin Beaulieu-Leloupe, the budding artist joined the navy at the ripe age of thirteen, sailing from Rochefort to the Indian Ocean with the frigate division under Pierre César Charles de Sercey. Under the notable Admiral’s reign, Garneray took part in various important campaigns, witnessing the hardships that took place at the battles against Arrogant and Victorious. In 1798, Garneray served on the corvette Brule Guele, which patrolled with the Preneuse, a 44-gun frigate of the French navy and a year later he was appointed to quartermaster and “first painter of the edge”.
After being wounded in 1806 while serving on the Belle Poule, Garneray was able to devote the rest of his life to painting. His brother, who was a part of Napoleon’s inner-circle, introduced him to the Emperor and saw to it that he would be properly commissioned for his works. By 1815 the artist’s naval paintings were regularly displayed in the Salon de Paris. Garneray came to be employed by the Duke of Angouleme, who was then the Grand Admiral of France, and was declared the Peintre de la Marine (official painter of the navy). With his widespread recognition, Garneray became the director of the Museum Rouen in 1833 however; his fame quickly came to an end in the 1840s with the loss of both his supporters and commissioners. By the time of Napoleon III, he took part in the failed coup d’etat of Strasbourg and by the early 1850s, seemed to have regained some his glory with his being awarded the “Legion of Honour” by Vice Admiral Bergeret and the Emperor himself. His works were inspired by his adventurous military career and sought to emulate both the victories and hardships of the French naval force. They provide great insight on ports, harbors, and naval battles.