From Cellar to Port

The Ria, Michele Maieschi, 1740/43 - L'Ermitage, Saint Pétersbourg, Russieto Bridge from the Riva del Vin, 1740/43 - The Hermitage, St Petersburg, Russia

THE RIALTO BRIDGE FROM THE RIVA DEL VIN
Michele Marieschi (1710-1743)

1740/43

The Hermitage, ST Petersburg, Russia

Before the rise of the railways, the wine trade often developed and operated from maritime ports. Venice played an important role in the growth of European wine; the city had a large part to play in terms of trade, but also in wine production – the Riva del Vin (‘wine quay’) still runs alongside the Grand Canal. In the thirteenth century, the Serenissime imported and re-exported large quantities of Greek wine from Malvosia (Monemvasia), on the south-east coast of Peloponnese. This region produced a strong, sweet wine with the taste of muscat, known for aging well, which was very appreciated at the time.

  Some Venetians would even move to Greece, specifically Rhodes, to grow the vines. Venetian trade included many different wines, such as Cyprian wine, liquorish and well-reputed; Crete was also a good source of sweet, full-bodied wines, which fetched a price well above the average, even in the fourteenth century! They also planted vineyards along the Dalmatian Coast, from Trieste to the Albanian border, in the Imola, Ancon and Verona regions.

VINIFICATION AND WINE AGEING

THE DESCENT TO THE CELLAR
Bartholomeus Pons, 1537 - Städel Museum, Francfort, Germany / 1
CAVE INTERIOR WITH WINE BARRELS, NEAR SAUMUR
Joseph Mallord William Turner, 1826/28 - Tate, Londres
MONK IN A RUIN WHICH HAS BEEN MADE INTO A WINE CELLAR
Alexander Lauréus, 1823 - Finnish National Gallery, Helsinki, Finland
COOPER TIGHTENING STAVES ON A BARREL (TONNELIER CERCLANT UN TONNEAU) J -F. Millet, 1848/52 - Mus. of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, United States
WINE PRESSES, HOTEL DE LA COURONNE IN CRESSIER, SWITZERLAND
Gustave Jeanneret, 1897? - Private collection
MEN OPERATING THE WINE PRESS (LES PRESSUREURS)
Gustave Jeanneret, 1887 - Wine Museum, Chateau de Boudry, Switzerland
PRESSING THE GRAPES
John Singer Sargent, ca. 1882 - Private collection
WINEMAKER (VIGNERON)
Hector Hanoteau, 1850 - Private collection
MONK TESTING WINE
Antonio Casanova y Estorach, ca. 1886 - Brooklyn Museum, New York

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1. Bartholomeus Pons, originally from Haarlem, was very active in the Burgundy and Champagne regions. In 1537, he painted this small genre scene, showing three man unloading barrels into a cellar (a mooring post in the foreground shows the coat of arms of the Dinteville family, his Burgundy patrons). This must be part of a larger painting, perhaps an altarpiece dedicated to St Vincent, patron saint of wine-growers and a venerated figure in the Burgundy region. 

TRADE DEVELOPED AND OPERATED FROM MARITIME SEA AND RIVER PORTS

WINE MERCHANTS AND TASTER IN DORDRECHT
Jan Van Goyen, 1651 - Musée de Picardie, Amiens, France / 1
GOVERNORS OF THE WINE MERCHANT'S GUILD OF AMSTERDAM
Ferdinand Bol, 1663 - Alte Pinakothek, Munich, Germany / 2
VIEW OF PORT OF MARSEILLES INSIDE (INTÉRIEUR DU PORT DE MARSEILLE)
Joseph Vernet, 1754 - Musée de la Marine, Paris / 3
VIEW OF PORT OF ROCHEFORT, FROM THE ARSENAL OF COLONIES (detail) Joseph Vernet, 1762 - Musée national de la Marine, Paris
FIRST VIEW OF THE PORT OF TOULON (PREMIÈRE VUE DU PORT DE TOULON)
Claude-Joseph Vernet, 1755 - Musée de la Marine, Paris / 5
VIEW OF THE PORT OF DIEPPE (VUE DU PORT DE DIEPPE), detail
Joseph Vernet, 1765 - Musée national de la Marine
VIEW OF THE PORT OF LA ROCHELLE (VUE DU PORT DE LA ROCHELLE)
Claude-Joseph Vernet, 1762 - Musée de la Marine, Paris / 7
VIEW OF THE PORT OF LA ROCHELLE (VUE DU PORT DE LA ROCHELLE)
Camille Corot, 1851 - Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT, Etats-Unis
PANORAMIC VIEW OF TOURS IN 1787 (VUE PANORAMIQUE DE TOURS)
Pierre-Antoine Demachy, ca. 1787 - Musée des Beaux-arts, Tours, France / 9
THE RIVER SEINE AT SULLY BRIDGE, THE WINE PORT, THE ST BERNARD QUAY
Stanislas Lépine, ca. 1882 1885 - Private collection / 10
THE WINE MARKET AT JUSSIEU (LA HALLE AUX VINS A JUSSIEU)
Paul Cézanne, 1872 - Portland Art Museum, OR, United States, / 11
LA HALLE AUX VINS A JUSSIEU
Paul Cézanne, 1872 - Portland Art Museum, Oregon / 11
NOTRE-DAME DE PARIS (view from Quai de La Tournelle)
Siebe ten Cate, 1904 / 12
NOTRE-DAME DE PARIS VIEW FROM QUAI DE LA TOURNELLE
Albert Lebourg, 1928 - Private collection / 13
PORT OF ROUEN, OFF-LOADING AND LOADING, WOOD (and Wine)
Camille Pissaro, 1898 - Private collection
PORT OF ROUEN
Pierre Letrividec, 1935-1937 - Private collection / 15

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1. In Wine Merchants and Taster in Dordrecht, “the scene seems to take place on a quayside in Dordrecht: the enormous door on the left is a feature of the city, even if the rest of the buildings do not correspond. In the centre are three men, surely merchants, standing before a stack of barrels and a knight on a horse. The first – a taster – drinks a glass of wine. To the left, a man opens a barrel; the dog beside him laps from a bowl. The scene shows the merchants testing the goods. Around them, the port is bustling: boats jostle in the harbour; men do deals around machinery or barrels; household essentials are bought at the market on the left. On the right, on the far side of a stretch of water in the background, a church spire is being erected. Unanimously recognised as one of van Goyen’s most important works, this scene is an example of one of his favourite subjects: a lively country scene.” (Source: Notice by Matthieu Pinette, Joconde database). In the seventeenth century, the Netherlands ruled supreme in terms of global trade. They organised transport, improved travelling conditions, founded trading companies and matched supply to demand, contributing to the growth of certain winegrowing regions, including the area between Nantes and Bayonne. Dutch traders were the first to deal in wine ‘anonymously’, and continued to import and export huge quantities of wine, especially white wine, regardless of quality or origin.

 

2. The Governors of the Amsterdam Wine Merchants’ Guild pose “holding a book or documents, brandishing the symbols of their livelihood (the pipette used to serve wine from the barrel), apparently distracted. Frozen, swallowed up by their robes, wax moulds from the Musée Grévin” (source : La Boîte à images, lemonde.fr).

3. The eighteenth century was marked by the growth of maritime trade. The Port of Marseilles, like the ports of Toulon, La Rochelle and Bordeaux, is one of a series of paintings by Joseph Vernet, who was commissioned by Louis XV. The artist was instructed to represent the activities specific to each region. Such paintings were used by those in power to show off, putting France in the position of a great maritime nation, illustrating the greatness of the country through its success and progress and raising national pride. These detailed paintings buzz with life, fulfilling their mission. Marseilles, still recovering from an outbreak of plague in 1720, is – with Bordeaux – one of the two great ports for outward trade. The piles of wood indicate the trading exchanges between Marseilles and the Mediterranean Basin.

4. The Port of Toulon, another in the series.

7. In his View on the Port of La Rochelle, Joseph Vernet places barrels in the foreground, despite the fact that La Rochelle had been overtaken by Bordeaux for the wine trade, and by Saint for the trade in eau-de-vie produced in the Cognac region (this after having been for centuries – from the twelfth to the fifteenth century – the principal point of export for the Flemish wine trade, based in Bruges). Instead, during the eighteenth century, La Rochelle was to join Bordeaux and Nantes as a top player in the slave trade, playing an active role in the so-called “triangular trade” between Europe, Africa and the Americas. The ships from France carried textiles, weapons, and luxury goods – not to mention wine and eau-de-vie!

9. The river ports – in this case, Tours – also attracted many wine-growers. Before the advent of the railways, commercial vineyards needed to be close to maritime ports and navigable rivers. The Loire canal network played an essential role in its wine trade. At the end of the 18th century, it stretched along the Loire River like a ribbon. When Demachy painted this Panoramic View of Tours in 1787, the city was enjoying a rapid expansion. The river, which was navigable, was full of vessels, notably flat-bottomed barges transporting barrels. The majority of the white wines of the Loire valley were exported to Northern Europe via Nantes, while the reds were sent to Orléans and onwards to Paris, as shown here (note the St Gatien Cathedral on the right bank of the river). The westerly wind allowed boats to navigate up the Loire to Orléans without difficulty. From there, they would return loaded with industrial materials; while from Nantes, they would bring back goods from the colonies (sugar, spices, coffee, cotton, indigo…).

10 to 13. The Paris wine market, found along the river Seine on the Quai Saint Bernard, has been the domain of the capital’s wine merchants since the mid-17th century. The market was open to all wine merchants, including foreigners, on payment of a fee. Better laid-out and better located on the Seine, the market replaced the nearby Port de la Tournelle, previously the main site of the Paris wine trade. Parisian wine consumption began to rise from the start of the 19th century. In order to deal with this trend, in 1808 city planners decided to build a new wine market, which was finally completed in 1845. However, the building had insufficient storage space and could not cope with the changes brought by the arrival of the railway. In 1869 the government decided to build new warehouses in Bercy, on the other side of the Seine. In 1905, Parliament obliged large wine merchants to open branches on both the Bercy site and the Paris market. Until the start of the 20th century, the two Parisian warehouses were equally important. However, the Saint Bernard market’s gradual specialisation into fine wines and spirits and the extension of the Bercy site in 1910 meant that the latter soon gained precedence. The traders of the Saint Bernard wine market finally moved off the site in 1964 and their stalls were transferred to Bercy.

15. Rouen, like Bordeaux and Nantes, is a maritime and river port. It was a route for goods destined for Paris, such as Algerian wines. Before the War, Algeria sent almost 60 per cent of its exports here, while the remainder went to Mediterranean ports, notably Sète, home to a flotilla of tankers. Sète and Paris were already well-connected (only 23 hours apart). The rail and sea network put the port at an advantage in the post-War years because it allowed for the transport of Algerian wine to Paris in 5-6 days. Rouen, meanwhile, had dragged its heels in introducing new tankers, and found itself with only 30 per cent of exports passing through its waters (source: René Streiff, Le Port de Rouen, L’Information Géographique, 1951).  

THE PORT OF BORDEAUX

PORT OF BORDEAUX FROM 'SALINIERES'
Claude-Joseph Vernet, 1758 - Musée de la Marine, Paris
VIEW OF THE PORT OF BORDEAUX, 'CHARTRONS' DOCKS, AND BACALAN
P. Lacour, 1804/06 - MFA, Bordeaux, France / 2
PORT OF BORDEAUX
Eugène Boudin, 1874 - Musée d'Orsay, Paris
PORT OF BORDEAUX
Edouard Manet, 1871 - Buhrle Fundation, Zurich, Switzerland
PORT OF BORDEAUX, LE PORT, PLACE DES QUINCONCES ON THE LEFT
Edme-Emile Laborne, 1871 - Musée national de la Marine, Paris
MEMPHIS AT DOCK, BORDEAUX
G. de Sonneville, 1922 - Musée Georges de Sonneville, Gradignan, France / 6

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Bordeaux’s wine story began during the Roman period, with the transport of amphorae down the river from the Gaul of Narbonne*. Situated 100 km from the Atlantic coast, the settlement benefitted from its status as both a river and maritime port (in the same way as Nantes and Porto). To prioritise its own wines over those of its haut-pays** (‘upcountry’) rivals, Bordeaux acted as a handy buffer between neighboring areas and the sea. Gradually, over the course of the 13th and 14th centuries, the city implemented a code of commercial practice – the so-called ‘wine police’ favored local wine over that of its neighbors. This system was tolerated by the English rulers, primarily because it decentralized tax collection; it remained in force after Bordeaux was restored to France in order to quell any uprising from those who may have benefited from the tax system under English rule (source : Hugh Johnson, Story of Wine, Easten Press, CO, 1998). 

 

Although Bordeaux was by no means exclusively a wine port, barrels were to be seen on every quay, regardless of the period. Many painters recorded such scenes.

2. The Chartrons area became famous after the arrival, in the late 17th/early 18th century, of wine merchants from London, Liverpool and Bristol, followed by others from Amsterdam, Germany and Denmark. Unable to lodge in the centre of the city, due to lack of space, these traders set up home on the edge of the city, near the Garonne. The quai des Chartrons and its European trading houses quickly came to symbolise the prosperity of the Atlantic ports. The great wine domains were established during this period. However, if Bordeaux enjoyed remarkable growth at this time, its success was not only due to trade with England and Northern Europe, but also transatlantic exchanges with destinations such as the Caribbean. The enrichment of the urban elite and the push for modernisation combined to make south-western France’s principal city a model of Enlightenment values.

6. The Memphis was a mineral trading vessel, transporting iron. In Bordeaux, this type of boat would often be seen beside the barrel-laden quay.

* The Gaul of Narbonne stretched from Toulouse to Antibes, and from Marseilles to Vienne.

 

**  The wine-growing area upriver from Bordeaux, along the Garonne, is known as haut-pays (‘upcountry’). Recognized as wines of quality, they served to color those of Bordeaux. The area became known for this. The wines were named after the port from which they were sent (Bergerac, Cahors, Moissac…) or after the producer (wines sent from the port of Rabastens were known as Gaillac because they came from the Abby of Saint-Michel de Gaillac.

FROM CELLAR TO PORT IN MEDIEVAL ILLUMINATIONS

MONK IN CHARGE OF THE WINE CELLAR
MONK IN CHARGE OF THE WINE CELLAR
Livre de Santé d'Aldebrandino de Sienne, XIVe - British Library, London

Livre de Santé d'Aldebrandino de Sienne, XIVe - BL, Londres
OUILLAGE
TOPPING UP
Redevancier de St Germain des Pres, ca. 1530 - Centre historique des Archives Nationales, Paris
PURCHASER FOR GRAIN AND WINE
PURCHASER FOR GRAIN AND WINE
National Library of the Netherlands, The Hague
THE WINE MARKET AT BRUGES
THE WINE MARKET AT BRUGES
Flemish Calendar, October, ca. 1530 - Munich
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A pictorial technique similar to that of frescoes or miniatures, illuminations were very popular during the Middle Ages. Done by hand, illuminations decorated or illustrated texts, usually on handwritten manuscripts. Until the 12th century, manuscripts were copied out in religious settings, such as abbeys, where they were used to support prayer and meditation. From the 13th century, private artisans began to produce literature for the secular market. This was due to the greater literacy that had resulted from the growing university and administrative sectors.

 

Find out more: Wine in Illuminations, From Vineyard to Port  >>

WINE AND THE ARTS: GRAPHICS, 18TH AND 19TH CENTURY ETCHINGS

PORT OF BORDEAUX / 1
In front of Chateau Trompette
After Nicolas Ozanne, 1776 - City Archives, Bordeaux, France
ABOLITION OF FEES FOR ENTRANCE / 2
Abundance, Bacchus and Ceres entering the Capital
Carnavalet Museum, Paris
NEW WINE MARKET IN PARIS, 1815 / 3
View on St Bernard Port, from Austerlitz Bridge
Dubois
OUTBREAKS OF STEAMBOATS / 4
View of Saumur, 1836
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The ‘Muses’ companion’, wine is present across the artistic spectrum, be it in literature, music, decorative or fine arts. Wine is an essential witness to our social and cultural history. Although the Virtual Wine Museum is mainly concerned with painting at present, some examples drawn from other artistic formats permit us to illustrate the universal role of wine, to ‘bear witness’ to it. A few examples on the same theme: 1) Port of Bordeaux (Le Port de Bordeaux, vu devant le Château Trompette sur la Garonne et vu du quai des Farines), shows a view of the port at the time of La Fayette. A barge in the foreground permits the transport of barrels. The embarkations allow goods to be carried between the sloping quay and the large ships. The engraving, illustrating an everyday scene from 1776, is highly evocative. 2) Abolition of fees for Entrance (L'Abondance, Bacchus et Cérès entrant dans la capitale), Musée Carnavalet, celebrates the 1791 scrapping of duty on goods entering Paris. Ceres is the goddess of agriculture and the harvest. 3) There has been a wine market on the Quai Saint Bernard since 1662. With wine consumption continuing to rise in the capital, in 1808 it was decided that a larger and more modern market should be built. 4) After having proven itself in mines and industry, steam power was used on boats from 1818, and on the railways a little later. The first steam-powered vessel would sail through Saumur in 1823. In this 1836 Vue de Saumur, steamboat and barges (one full of barrels) are shown side by side.

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GALLERIES FROM VINEYARD TO PORT

From Vineyard to Harvest
From Cellar to Port
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PRESSING THE GRAPES John Singer Sargent, ca. 1882 - Private collection