The drama of this scene is conveyed through the artist’s use of strong diagonals in the composition, from the shipwrecked figures in the foreground to the dark, threatening clouds at the top right, and from the imposing fort and cliffs at the top left, to the boat battling the storm at the bottom right. The proximity of the crashing waves places the viewer at the heart of the action. According to the address on the trunk being pulled ashore, the crew and cargo were bound for Naples. Carlo Bonavia was influenced by the work of the French view painter Claude-Joseph Vernet (1714-89) who visited Naples in 1737 and 1746.
Carlo Bonavia A Storm off a Rocky Coast 1757 © Compton Verney