Michele Renault was a ship portrait artist in Livorno, Italy- a port sometimes referred to as "Leghorn". Renault often painted ship's portraits for foreign ship captains while they were moored in Leghorn Harbor, particularly the English- a tradition he would pass to his son Luigi who was an artist famous in his own right for similar paintings.
Popular with ship's captains, particularly English and American, Renault primarily painted smaller ship's portraits in a bright and detailed style. The ship would come into Livorno and the artist would create a portrait while she offloaded cargoes, took on fresh supplies and reloaded for future ports. The portrait would be done before the ship sailed again. However, the artist also created a few more complex views with a broader view of port and coastline including more vessels alongside the main portrait. These special portraits were highly valued by the captains as they were costly acquisitions.
While Luigi, Michele's son, was a more prolific artist, Michele's works are artistically superior. Few of Michele's works have come on the market; his smaller output and earlier time period making his works more rare and desirable. Works by Michele Renault can be found in the collections of:
Altonaer Museum, Hamburg, Germany
Library and Museum of Freemasonry, London, England
Among other public and private collections worldwide.