In most examples, humanity served as a supporting element to his paintings, with the landscape playing the most important role. But within Fishing Boats at Capri we find a busy display of local life, as men, women and children help out to earn a living for their respective families. There is a timeless quality to scenes such as this, and several famous painters have been drawn to the fishing communities during their careers. One of the benefits of such paintings is that it also allows an artist to make use of the stunning beaches of each region, and the two together can easily make highly memorable paintings. One might remember the later work of Joaquin Sorolla who did similar in Valencia, with the likes of Women Walking on the Beach, The Horse's Bath and The Return from Fishing.

If you look closely, it appears that this painting was not actually quite completed, with the horse left just from the shoulders upwards as it sleeps on the beach. That said, most of the composition is fairly refined and clearly enough was completed for it to be worth acquiring by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where it can be found today. They date the piece at 1857, at which point the artist was still relatively young and more able to travel around from country to country in search of new ideas for his work. He would produce several hundred paintings across his career, and whilst Fishing Boats in Capri may not be the most famous of all, it still retains a charm and quality to make it entirely worthy of your attention. The mere fact that the composition is different to his main approach, that is enough to warrant further investigation into this piece.

We find a plethora of activity upon the beach here, with animals drinking from the water. Several mothers with their children attend to the fishing nets, hoping to clean and untangle them in preparation for the next voyage. A single rock juts out from the sea in the foreground, whilst a green landscape sweeps across from the top of the painting, with some more barren brown rocks placed around the beach. The yellow sand captures some of the available light and this sits nicely alongside the yellow and white sheets which hang on an unused boat. Two gentlemen take the time to sleep, perhaps restoring energy levels for their work later in the day.

Fishing Boats at Capri in Detail Albert Bierstadt