the eighteenth-century imagination, this representation of a shipwreck was
the equivalent of a modern
movie, in full technicolor and stereo sound. French artist Claude Joseph Vernet (17141789) specialized in these stormy seascapes, often depicting sailing vessels in distress. His patrons and critics loved to imagine themselves within these wild scenes of destruction, battered by wind and spray, feeling the terror of the sublime.
Paintings like this one were also thought of as vanitas, reminders
of the transitory nature of life on earth.