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Claude-Joseph Vernet
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The leading landscape and marine painter in 18th-cenetury France, Claude-Joseph Vernet enjoyed an international reputation and clientele. The son of a decorative painter in Avignon, Antoine Vernet (1689-1753), he was the father of Carle Vernet (1758-1836) and the grandfather of Horace Vernet (1789-1863), both noted artists. He probably received his early training from his father. He then studied with Philippe Sauvan (1697-1792), the leading history painter in Avignon, and later with Jacques Vialy (ca. 1681-1745) in Aix-en-Provence, where a local nobleman was impressed with his talent and in 1734 sent him to Italy. There he may have studied under Adrien Manglard (1695-1760), a marine and landscape specialist, but he was also influenced by the seventeenth-century masters of landscape, Claude Lorrain (ca. 1604-1682), Gaspard Dughet (1615-1675), and Salvator Rosa (1615-1673). During his stay in Rome, Vernet explored the Italian countryside, making studies after nature in Naples, Tivoli, and around the lakes of Nemi and Albano. He had an international clientele by 1740, including British travelers on the Grand Tour, Roman nobles and French diplomats, and was elected a member of Rome’s Accademia de San Luca in 1743. In 1745 he married an English woman, Virginia Parker. Approved by the French Académie Royale in 1746, he first exhibited in the official Paris Salon that year and continued to exhibit at the Salon for the rest of his career. He returned to Paris in 1753 and was elected to full membership in the Académie Royale that year. Through the efforts of the Marquis de Marigny, the Superintendent of Royal Buildings and the brother of Madame de Pompadour, Vernet received a prestigious royal commission to paint a series of works depicting the ports of France (Paris, Musee du Louvre and Musee de la Marine). By 1765 he had completed fifteen canvases, remarkable for their topographical accuracy and indefatigable imagination, and all replete with numerous figures to integrate nature into the human sphere. Upon his return to Paris he was given lodgings at the Louvre and received wide critical acclaim, especially from Denis Diderot (1713-1784) who preferred his work to that of Claude. Vernet's repertory includes views of ports, imaginary seascapes at sunrise and sunset, storms, shipwrecks, and landscapes-all characterized by clarity of vision and mellow lighting. (Rev. TNB 8/2013) Selected bibliography: Conisbee, Philip. Claude-Joseph Vernet, 714-1789. Exhibition catalog. London: Kenwood House, Greater London Council, 1976. Levey, Michael. Painting and Sculpture in France 1700-1789. Pp. 198-201. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992.