Jean-Louis Demarne’s career was not that of a powerful Academician. He was instead a painter who actively sought out and capitalised on the taste of middle-class collectors. Influenced by the highly finished landscapes and genre scenes of Dutch painters currently in vogue among Parisian collectors, Demarne’s landscapes and genre scenes found an eager audience in France and abroad.
A Ferry and Boats on a Canal is an excellent example of Demarne’s picturesque depictions of everyday rural life. It uses the compositional convention of a central vanishing point that became something of a trademark for the painter. The landscape itself is quite generic, it could be Holland, Flanders or Northern France. Demarne is an important example of a commercially-minded artist who generally resisted participation in contemporary politics in favour of the private patronage of the burgeoning middle class.