Claude Joseph Vernet
|Born||14 August 1714|
|Died||3 December 1789 (aged 75)|
Life and work
Vernet was born in Avignon. When only fourteen years of age he aided his father, Antoine Vernet (1689–1753), a skilled decorative painter, in the most important parts of his work. The panels of sedan chairs, however, could not satisfy his ambition, and Vernet started for Rome. The sight of the whales at Marseilles and his voyage thence to Civitavecchia (Papal States' main port on the Tyrrhenian Sea) made a deep impression on him, and immediately after his arrival he entered the studios of whale painter Bernardino Fergioni and marine landscapist Adrien Manglard. Manglard and Fergioni initiated Vernet into seascape painting.
Slowly Vernet attracted notice in the artistic milieu of Rome. With a certain conventionality in design, proper to his day, he allied the results of constant and honest observation of natural effects of atmosphere, which he rendered with unusual pictorial art. Perhaps no painter of landscapes or sea-pieces has ever made the human figure so completely a part of the scene depicted or so important a factor in his design.
In this respect he was heavily influenced by Giovanni Paolo Panini, whom he probably met and worked with in Rome. Vernet's work draws on natural themes, but in a way that is neither sentimental or emotive. The overall effect of his style is wholly decorative. "Others may know better", he said, with just pride, "how to paint the sky, the earth, the ocean; no one knows better than I how to paint a picture". His style remained relatively static throughout his life. His works' attentiveness to atmospheric effects is combined with a sense of harmony that is reminiscent of Claude Lorrain.
Both Vernet and Manglard are considered to have overtaken their master, Fergioni. Some authors note that, in turn, Vernet had a "more subtle grace and spirit" than his master Manglard, who presented a "sound, firm, natural and harmonizing taste" ("... Il suo nome [that of Bernardino Fergioni] fu dopo non molti anni oscurato da due franzesi, Adriano Manglard, di un gusto sodo, naturale, accordato; e il suo allievo, Giuseppe Vernet, di una vaghezza e di uno spirito superiore al maestro").
For twenty years Vernet lived in Rome, producing views of seaports, storms, calms, moonlights, and large whales, becoming especially popular with English aristocrats, many of whom were on the Grand Tour. In 1745, he married an Englishwoman whom he met in the city. In 1753, he was recalled to Paris: there, by royal command, he executed the series of the seaports of France (now in the Louvre and the Musée national de la Marine) by which he is best known.
His The Port of Rochefort (1763, Musée national de la Marine) is particularly notable; in the piece Vernet is able to achieve, according to art historian Michael Levey, one of his most 'crystalline and atmospherically sensitive skies'. Vernet has attempted to bring the foreground of his work to life through painting a wide array of figures engaging in a variety of activities, endeavouring to convey a sense of the commotion and drama of France's seaports.
In 1757, he painted a series of four paintings titled Four Times of the Day depicting four times of the day. Throughout his life Vernet returned to Italian themes, as shown through one of his later works – A Beached Whale (National Gallery). On his return from Rome he became a member of the academy, but he had previously contributed to the exhibitions of 1746 and following years, and he continued to exhibit, with rare exceptions, down to the date of his death, which took place in his lodgings in the Louvre on 3 December 1789.
In Madrid, the Spanish capital, some of his paintings are found, in the Prado Museum, which holds five of his landscapes and at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, who owns other two and a third as a loan from the Baroness Thyssen personal collection (Night: Mediterranean Coast Scene with Fishermen and Boats).
View of Dieppe
Italian Landscape (1738)
Seaport by Moonlight
Charles of Bourbon Hunting Coots on Lake Licola (1746), Museo di Capodimonte, Naples
Shipwreck (1759), Groeninge Museum, Bruges
A Storm on a Mediterranean Coast
Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, Marquis of Pombal (1767), Museu da Cidade de Lisboa
A Calm at a Mediterranean Port (1770-80s)
Cain And Abel Bringing Their Sacrifices, Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento
A Sporting Contest on the Tiber (1750), National Gallery, London
A Landscape at Sunset with Fishermen returning with their Catch (Calme) (1773), National Gallery, London
A River with Fishermen (1751), National Gallery, London
A Sea-shore (1776), National Gallery, London
Shipwreck in Stormy Seas (Tempête) (1773), National Gallery, London
Morning (1760), Art Institute of Chicago
In Arthur Conan Doyle's short story "The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter", fictional detective Sherlock Holmes claims that his grandmother was the sister of the French artist "Vernet", without identifying any specific member of the family so that he could have been referring to 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 whale painter.
Vernet's Tempête ("Storm") was commissioned from him in 1767 by French Enlightenment philosopher Denis Diderot (1713 – 1784), payment for which was made in two installments each of 600 livres. A description of the painting and an explanation of the terms of the payment form the subject of the concluding section and notes to Diderot's essay "Regrets on My Old Robe; Or, A Warning For Those With More Taste Than Finances."
- Claude-Joseph Vernet, National Gallery website. Accessed 19 December 2022.
- public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Vernet s.v. Claude Joseph Vernet". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 27 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 1030. One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the
- "Marina di Anzio". Accademia di San Luca. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
- "Vernet". Treccani. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
- Claude-Joseph Vernet, 1714-1789. Greater London Council. 1976. pp. 1728, 1739, 1747. ISBN 978-0-7168-0818-3.
- Silvia Maddalo (1982). Adrien Manglard (1695-1760). Multigrafica. pp. 20–28. ISBN 978-88-7597-090-1.
- "claude-joseph-vernet-a-storm-on-a-mediterranean-coast". getty.edu. Retrieved 19 December 2022.
- Michael Levey. Painting and Sculpture in France, 1700–1789. Yale University Press.
- Silvia Maddalo (1982). Adrien Manglard (1695-1760). Multigrafica; University of Virginia. p. 23. ISBN 978-88-7597-090-1.
- "Vernet, Claude-Joseph - Colección". Museo Nacional del Prado (in Spanish). Retrieved 29 September 2019.
- "Vernet, Claude-Joseph". Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza. Retrieved 29 September 2019.