Born in Bordeaux, Vernet was a pupil of his father and of Nicolas-Bernard Lépicié. Strangely, after winning the grand prix (1782), his father had to recall him back from Rome to France to prevent him from entering a monastery.
In his Triumph of Aemilius Paulus, he broke with tradition and drew the horse with the forms he had learnt from nature in stables and riding-schools. His hunting-pieces, races, landscapes, and work as a lithographer were also very popular.
When he again began to produce under the French Directory (1795–1799), his style had changed radically. He started drawing in minute detail battles and campaigns to glorify Napoleon. His drawings of Napoleon's Italian campaign won acclaim as did the Battle of Marengo, and for his Morning of Austerlitz Napoleon awarded him the Legion of Honour. Louis XVIII of France awarded him the Order of Saint Michael.
Afterwards he excelled in hunting scenes and depictions of horses.
He died in Paris.
In Arthur Conan Doyle's short story "The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter", fictional detective Sherlock Holmes claims that his grandmother is the French artist, Vernet's sister, without stating whether this is Claude Joseph Vernet, Carle Vernet, or Horace Vernet.
In Maria Wirtemberska's novel "Malvina, or the Heart's Intuition" (1816; English translation 2001, by Ursula Phillips), it is said that a view that is being described merits the talent of Vernet, who as the writer explains in her own footnote was a sea painter.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
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