Joseph Vernet

Portrait of Joseph Vernet

Claude-Joseph Vernet was a French landscape painter. He is famous for his moonlight and storm scenes. He had many English patrons whilst he worked in Rome and returned to France in 1753 to undertake a royal commission about the ports of France. He was born in Avignon on 14th August 1714 and died on 3rd December 1789 in Paris.

Major Works

The Port of Rochefort” (1763)
“A Shipwreck in Stormy Seas” (1773)
“A Sea-Shore” (1773)
“A Sporting Contest on the Tiber” (1773)

Biography Timeline

Claude-Joseph Vernet was born on 14th August 1714 in Avignon, France. His father Antoine Vernet was a skilled decorative painter.

1728: His father allows him to help with the painting in his workshop but he finds even working on the panels of sedan chairs not to be ambitious enough for him.

1734: He moves to Rome in Italy in order to study the masters and is particularly impressed by the light and atmosphere in works by Claude Lorrain and Salvator Rosa. He enters the studios of the whale painter Bernardino Fergioni and the marine landscapist Adrien Manglard. Influenced by them he begins to paint his own seashores and ports in a style which is often imaginative and is a precursor to the Romantics. His figures become part of the landscape which is unusual for the time which was heavily influenced by neo-classicism. He makes a name for himself particularly with English aristocrats on the Grand Tour.

1745: He marries an Englishwoman whom he meets in Rome.

1752: He paints “Mediterranean Harbour at Sunset”.

1753: He is recalled to France by King Louis the Fifteenth to begin painting the seaports of France. His father dies. He becomes a member of the Academie Royal and continues to exhibit with them for the rest of his life and even includes Italian scenes from memory. He paints “Nuit-Scene de Cote Mediterraneenne aves des Pecheurs et des Bateaux”.

1754: He begins his “15 Ports of France series” which he continues to paint until 1765.

1757: He paints four paintings entitled “Four times of Day”.

1758: His son Antoine-Charles-Horace is born in Bordeaux. (He becomes a famous painter of battle scenes under Napoleon Bonaparte).

1763: “The Port of Rochefort” is seen as one of his finest port paintings.

1773: He paints “A Sporting Contest on the Tiber”.

1789: His grandson Horace Vernet is born in Paris (becoming also a painter of Napoleonic scenes). He paints “Soldiers in a Mountain Gorge, with a Storm”.

Claude-Joseph Vernet died on 3rd December 1789 in his lodgings at the Louvre in Paris, France.

Further Information

Examples of the paintings of Vernet.