Samuel Scott was one of the preeminent marine painters of 18th century England. His early work demonstrates a mastery of the style of the Dutch marine painter, Willem van de Velde II (1633-1707), but by the time this painting was made, Scott had clearly developed his own style. This wonderful image is amongst Scott’s largest scale works, and as such it serves as a dramatic example of the artist’s ability to capture the effects of light on the water as well as his ability to successfully render the colossal sailing vessels of the 18th century, so vital to the maritime dominance of the British fleet. This particular work is characteristic of Scott’s mature style in which he carefully juxtaposes the large, powerful ships with the calm and serene waters in which they rest.
The present painting depicts Francis I, Duke of Lorraine leaving English shores. Born Francis Stephen, he was Duke of Lorraine from 1729 to 1735, when he ceded his Duchy to Stanislaus Leszczynski (Stanislaus I of Poland) in exchange for the grand duchy of Tuscany. He married, Maria Theresa, Archduchess of Austria and Queen of Hungary and Bohemia in 1736, thereby allying himself with the Hapsburg dynasty. In 1740, Maria Theresa gained her inheritance and in September of 1745 she secured Francis’ election as co-regent of her hereditary lands. Francis I was officially recognized as the Holy Roman Emperor by the Treaty of Dresden (December 1745).
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