Joseph Vernet

Joseph Vernet canvas prints & artprints

Indissociable from the 18th century, Joseph Vernet had a lifelong impact on the arts, producing paintings that were precise, creative and representative of European maritime life. Today exhibited in the greatest museums, from the Louvre Museum to the Musée de la Marine, Vernet lived through the ages and seduced the aristocracy during his lifetime, producing a large number of paintings for the kings and queens of late 18th-century Europe.


Discover some of Joseph Vernet's most famous works, including his oil on canvas "L'entrée du port de Marseille" (The entrance to the port of Marseille), a famous painting that can be seen in the Louvre and faithfully depicts the port of the city of Marseille, where he lived for several months; his painting "Port de Sète" (Port of Sète), an oil on canvas commissioned by the King and now on display in the Musée de la Marine; and his oil painting "La Nuit : a seaport in the moonlight", a famous painting showing a view of an imaginary port at sunset, in a classical landscape in the style of Joseph Vernet.


Treat yourself to a page in the history of art, with the finest paintings by one of the greatest marine painters of the 18th century, by choosing a reproduction from the catalogue, and find out more about his biography.


Biography of Joseph Vernet.


Joseph Vernet's early career.


Born in Avignon in the early 18th century, in 1714, Claude Joseph Vernet, better known as Joseph Vernet, came from a family of artists. His father, Antoine Vernet, specialised in the decorative arts and regularly decorated carriages, doors and sedan chairs, while his brothers Jean Antoine, François Gabriel and Antoine François Vernet also became landscape and history painters and religious painters. It was only natural that young Joseph Vernet should develop a predisposition for drawing and painting, and given the quality of his drawings, his father gave him his first easel at the age of 5, so that he could produce his first paintings. Trained in Aix-en-Provence and then in Avignon by his father's friends, who were also painter-decorators, Joseph Vernet wanted to devote himself to painting. His precocious talent was recognised by the bourgeois milieu of Provence, and he was soon supported by patrons to travel to Rome to complete his training.


Joseph Vernet's Roman period.


Arriving in Rome at the age of just 20, Vernet opened up a new chapter in his art, learning about classicism and the painting style of the great masters of the Renaissance. However, the young artist more readily admired the work of the French painter Claude Lorrain, or that of Nicolas Poussin, landscape painters who emphasised the effect of light in their landscapes and seascapes. Thus, trained in seascapes by Adrien Manglard, Joseph Vernet's line of drawing became clearer, and the painter began to paint idealised seascapes, in which, although inspired by very real ports as in his oil on canvas depicting the port of Naples, the imagination plays a predominant role in representing storms, shipwrecks, or the light of the sun or the clarity of the night reflected on the seas. In the midst of the many French painters staying in Rome, Joseph Vernet made a name for himself, first with the French community there, as with the French ambassador who commissioned several paintings from him, then with the Italian community, but also in France, where the painter's works began to make a name for themselves on a national level, all the way to the capital, where he was accepted by the Royal Academy of Paris, which was a real portal for his fame.


Joseph Vernet's marriage and recognition throughout Europe.


With the many nationalities present in Rome, then one of the major art centres in Europe, Joseph Vernet began to sell his paintings to numerous foreign patrons, and to make a name for himself on the European art market. The Dutch, Swedes, Austrians, Prussians, Italians, French and, above all, the British, who admired the paintings of Claude Lorrain, all loved Vernet's style of painting. The French painter's marriage to Virginia Parker, the daughter of an English officer in the papal navy, was a real lever and a portal for the exhibition of his works across the Channel. Recognised during his lifetime, and acclaimed by art critics and his contemporaries, it was even the Marquis de Marigny who, during a trip to Italy, bought two paintings from him on behalf of the King of France in 1749. In 1753, after 19 years in Rome, Joseph Vernet turned over a new leaf in his life, moving to Marseille and then Paris, where he was appointed a member of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture.


Views of French ports: a major series in the work of Joseph Vernet.


Also in 1753, Abel-François Poisson de Vandières proposed to King Louis XV that he create 24 paintings depicting the most beautiful ports in France, from Bordeaux to Toulon, via Marseille. Claude Joseph Vernet, at the time one of the most renowned painters of seascapes, was commissioned by Marigny to carry out this task. For more than 10 years, Vernet travelled the length and breadth of France, accompanied by his family, to sketch the design of each port and get an overall view of the canvas, which was then painted in his studio in the Louvre in Paris. Following this guideline, he painted fifteen of the twenty-four paintings planned during this period, but tired of the work, he reached an agreement to end his collaboration with Marigny. These included the landscape and sunshine of the ports of Marseille and Toulon, Bandol, Antibes, Sète, Bordeaux, Bayonne, La Rochelle, Rochefort and Dieppe. These 15 paintings, all in oil on canvas, were exhibited at the Salon de Peinture et de Sculpture in Paris, and will also be published in the form of engravings, to make this series available to as many people as possible. Claude Joseph Vernet's best-known work, Depicting French Harbours, was one of the first paintings to be exhibited at the Muséum central des arts de la République, better known today as the Musée du Louvre.


The end of Joseph Vernet's career.


Having finished painting the ports of France, Vernet returned to Paris, where he stayed with his family in what was to become the Louvre National Museum, as Louis XV preferred Versailles. He lived the Parisian social life, frequenting the capital's artists' circle, operas and theaters, as well as the bourgeoisie and nobility. In 1765, once he had regained his artistic freedom, he resumed producing classical-style seascapes, entirely of his own imagination, depicting shipwrecks, storms, twilight landscapes with glimpses of the sun, or a view of a sea of oil. Fully available for new commissions, illustrious figures such as Diderot and the Countess du Barry, Louis XV's favorite, commissioned series of paintings in the artist's preferred pictorial theme. Now a painter recognized at the national level by the great and the good of the world, these commissions had the immediate effect of opening the way for Vernet to spread throughout the European aristocracy, as with the King of Poland and the Russian Empress Catherine II, who commissioned several paintings from him. Painting after painting, Vernet produced a large number of canvases from his studio in the Louvre, and although the arrival of Romanticism was about to render the works of this specialist in French marine painting obsolete, Joseph Vernet continued to successfully present several paintings until his death in 1789.


Joseph Vernet, the great marine painter.


Although the title of official marine painter did not yet exist in his time, Joseph Vernet could have been considered as such, thanks to his canvases depicting the maritime world to perfection, sometimes imaginatively, sometimes realistically, with his series of French ports. A major artist of the French school of painting, he inspired many famous painters, particularly of seascapes, such as Alexandre Jean Noël and Jean Joseph Kapeller. Well-known during his lifetime, his work has endured through the ages, and is widely exhibited, mainly in French museums, such as the Louvre National Museum, where he resided, the Musée National de la Marine collections, the André Malraux Museum catalog in Le Havre and the Augustins Museum in Toulouse, and the collections of the Musée des Beaux Arts in Rouen, the Musée de Quimper and the Musée d'Art in Toulon.

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