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Record Image
Patch, Thomas (English, b.1725, d.1782), Circle of
The Harbour, Naples
oil on canvas
740 x 1350 mm sight size; 940 x 1555 mm frame size
1-1952
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Purchased with funds from the Dunedin Public Art Gallery Society through the National Art Collections Fund, London.
Thomas Patch came from a well-to-do family of surgeons but early in his own medical training he realised his desire was to be an artist. At the age of 22 he was part of the English artists’ scene in Rome, and by 1750 his artistic style emulated, in many ways, that of his teacher, Claude-Joseph Vernet. He never returned to England.
Patch is best known for his humorous and inoffensive caricatures (paintings and engravings), which he produced throughout his life. But when, with the success of Claude Lorrain and Nicolas Poussin, landscape became an established subject, wealthy travellers wished to buy such pictures and bring them home as souvenirs of the places they had visited. Patch was one of the artists who supplied young affluent Englishmen with these equivalents of the picture postcard, particularly after his move to Florence in 1755.
This painting, The Harbour, Naples, is a stock subject painted in various incarnations by Patch, who, on his visit to Venice in 1760, would have encountered the work of Canaletto and possibly that of Bernardo Bellotto. A ship is anchored on the left and beyond is a lighthouse. In the foreground sailors, a beggar and other folk go about their daily business. Less romantic than some of Patch’s other harbour scenes, which contain ruins, this painting shows the seafront built up with characteristic apartment blocks and family palaces that are still there today.

not on view

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