Object Image

The Banks of the Rance, Brittany

This study is the product of one of the earliest known plein-air painting excursions on the Channel coast. With a painterly sensibility honed by the direct observation of nature, Valenciennes sketched the light, atmosphere, and swiftly moving water at the mouth of the river Rance. This exercise was intended to train his eye and hand to capture such fleeting effects so that he could draw from the experience when painting in the studio. The investigatory spirit of Valenciennes’s sketches, painted in France and Italy, mark them as signal achievements of the Enlightenment.

Credit: The Whitney Collection, Gift of Wheelock Whitney III, and Purchase, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles S. McVeigh, by exchange, 2003

Possibly 1785
Oil on paper, laid down on canvas
21.3 x 49.2cm
Image and text © Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2019

Where you'll find this

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Permanent collection