Eugene Isabey “Smugglers Cove”


A classic oil on canvas showing a group of  smugglers pulling in their cache of wooden barrels  which was dropped off in the sea  from a galleon off a secluded mountainous cove behind a broody dusk sky. The painting is by Louis Gabriel Eugene Iasbey ( 1806-1883) a french 19 century artist  of some renown and whose work hangs in such esteemed institutions as the Hermitage  in St Petersberg and in the National Gallery in London. There is even a portrait of the artist painted by somebody else hanging in the Louvre.

Eugene’s father was  Jean baptist Isabey,  a well known painter who enjoyed the patronage of Tsarist Russia. Originally, Eugene resisted following in his father’s footsteps and wanted to be a sailor, but his father insisted that he study painting; a turnabout from the usual situation where the family opposes an artistic career in favor of something more practical.

After studying with his father and copying the old masters at the Louvre, he began sharing a studio with the landscape painter, Xavier Leprince (1799-1826) at Honfleur, in 1824. Three years later and with enough experience under his belt, Eugene  exhibited in the Paris Art Salon.

In 1831, he was chosen to accompany a diplomatic mission to Morocco, led by the Comte De Mornay  but he politely refused as he  had just returned from a short trip to Algiers , where he had painted scenes of the  English Royal Navy’s  campaign, and was concerned that the situation there was still too unsettled for his safety. Ironically,  he was replaced by his friend, Eugene Delacroix who created over 100 works that are now considered classics of Orientalism. Eugene Delacroix went on of course to achieve fame and fortune while Eugene Isabey  went on to became a  court painter for King Louis Philippe.
Towards the end of his career, he favored historical paintings, genre scenes and landscapes, but also executed numerous canvases depicting storms and shipwrecks; possibly reflecting his own thwarted career plans. During a trip to England, he was known to have studied the works of Turner. He was especially skillful at rendering subtleties in darker colors such as this painting.
Dimensions: 23.5″ ( 60 cm ) H 32″ ( 82 cm ) W
Ref. EI GR6476

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