Collection Online
oil on canvas on wood panel
56.4 × 47.0 cm
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Felton Bequest, 1926
Gallery location
Late 19th & early 20th Century Paintings & Decorative Arts Gallery
Level 2, NGV International
This dramatic subject, which stands at the beginning of Manet’s career, belongs to a minor theme that he returned to many times throughout his life: imagery of the sea and ships. In 1848 Manet failed the entrance exam for the French naval officers’ school but bought his own passage as a junior helmsman on Le Havre et Guadaloupe, a three-masted ship headed for Rio de Janeiro. Manet’s interest here is in the ship itself as the vehicle for his immersion in nature. Seen from the truncated viewpoint of a helmsman, the plunging angles and stark lighting convey the painter’s enthusiasm for the sea.