This evocative landscape revisits the themes of moon and firelight schemes with which Hackert had previously engaged himself during the 1770s. A similar composition, a View of the lighthouse in the Bay of Naples lit by the moon with fishing boats in the foreground
, signed and dated 1773
, is in the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne.1
In both this and the Cologne compositions, Hackert contrasts the silvery hues of the moonlight, reflected in the water, with the deep, warm reds of the fire which illuminates the Customs House, attracting an assembly of figures who dance in its light. The tree, prominently placed in the center left foreground divides the composition with the fiery reds of the dancing scene to the left, and the cool, crisp greys of the waterscape to the right, a device he previously used in the painting dated 1778,
in the Georg Schäfer collection, Schweinfurt.2
1. See Literature vol. II, p. 29, cat. no. 75, reproduced, plate 30.
2. See Literature vol. II, p. 50, cat. no. 120, reproduced, plate 54.