Jean-Baptiste Pillement, The Mouth of the River Tagus

Photo courtesy of Dave Penman (All rights reserved)


Country House
The Mouth of the River Tagus
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Overall height: 64 cm, Overall width: 94 cm
Jean-Baptiste Pillement (1728-1808)
Catalogue Number
  • Signed and dated 'Jean Pillement 1785'


Jean-Baptiste Pillement was born into a family of decorative artists. His initial studies were in Lyon under the history painter Daniel Sarrabat II, but he moved to Paris and joined the Gobelins factory as a draughtsman around 1743. Two years later he commenced the travels that continued throughout his life: he spent three years in Madrid in the 1740s, moving to Lisbon in 1750, where he was offered a pension and title of Peintre du Roi, working for both King Pedro III and Queen Maria I. In 1754, he moved to England where he spent six years, exhibiting at the Society of Artists for the first time in 1760. In 1780 Pillement returned to Portugal where he produced the present pair of paintings (see TN37).

TN36 shows the mouth of the Tagus from the Lisbon shore looking towards the Belém Tower, a fortified defensive structure built in the Manueline style on a small island in the middle of the Tagus. The tower was a rare survival of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. Pillement has filled the foreground of the painting with fishing vessels, fishermen and other figures. It is probably the ‘Picture, View near Lisbon’ listed in the inventory of June 1829 as in the Saloon. In the inventory of March 1928, when it was located in the ‘Return End Corridor’, it was described with TN37 as, ‘Jean Pillement 1785 – Algerian Harbour Scene/ Companion Picture – Italian aquaduct landscape, 26in by 37in’.

by Jonny Yarker

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