Vernet, the name of a family of French painters. The records of Avignon for 1669 mention André Vernet, a painter. Antoine, a decorative painter, two panels by whom are now in the museum of Avignon, was born there in July, 1689, and died Dec. 10, 1753. By his wife, Marie Thérèse Garnier, he had 22 children. An account of the eldest son is given below. Of the others, Antoine Ignace, born June 7, 1726, went to Naples in 1746, and died there before 1775. He was an excellent painter of marine subjects, and especially of eruptions of Vesuvius. Franqois Gabriel, born March 15,1728, painted religious subjects. One of his pictures is in the church of St. Agricol, Avignon. Antoine Franqois, born March 12,1730, a marine and landscape painter, was appointed painter of the royal buildings, and decorated the chateaux of Versailles, Fontainebleau, and Choisy. He died in Paris, Feb. 15,1779. A daughter, Agathe Faubtine, born June 25, 1723, married Honoré Guibert, an eminent sculptor, and her children and the children of her brothers mentioned above became more or less eminent as painters, sculptors, and jewellers.
Claude Joseph, known as Joseph Vernet, eldest son of Antoine, born in Avignon, Aug. 14, 1714, died in Paris in December, 1789. He was first instructed by his father, then by able masters at Aix, and his rapid progress interested some wealthy patrons in Avignon, with whose assistance he was sent to Italy in 1734 to study historical painting. The vessel being overtaken by a terrible storm, he was lashed to the mast, and the scene presented to his view decided his career. After a few years he was considered the first marine painter in Europe, and from about 1739 the most distinguished men in Rome were his patrons and friends. Painting rapidly, he was yet unable to fill all his orders. In 1745 he married Virginia Parker, the daughter of an Irish emigrant, commander of the pope's galleys. He was made a member of the academy of St. Luke, and, with the exception of two visits to Marseilles in 1751 and 1752, remained for 20 years in Italy. In 1753 he returned to France, became a member of the academy of painting, and was commissioned by the king to paint the seaports of France. Travelling from port to port, he finished 15 of the 20 pictures ordered, when the breaking out of war and his disgust with a nomadic life induced him to resign the office and settle in Paris. Every crowned head in Europe became his patron, and he labored incessantly until his death.
His pictures are scattered all over Europe, and most of them have been engraved.
Antoine Charles Horace, known as Carle Vernet, son of the preceding, born in Bordeaux, Aug. 14, 1758, died in Paris, Nov. 28, 1836. On account of his delicate health his father kept him with himself, instructed him in painting, and allowed him great freedom. He became passionately fond of horses, and his pictures of them were considered masterpieces.
After once failing, he gained the great prize of the academy and went to Rome, but remained only a few months. He was subject to fits of melancholy bordering on insanity. Returning to France, he resumed his art, and marriage and a happy domestic life cured him of his melancholy. In 1804 he exhibited " The Battle of Marengo," which French critics regard as the commencement of the modern French school of military painting. This was followed by paintings of the principal battles of Napoleon. His smaller pictures, and especially his caricatures ridiculing the allies, were engraved in great numbers by the first artists of Paris. Throughout life he was remarkable for his industry, for his fine musical taste and for his engaging social traits.
Known As Horace Yernet Jean Emile Horace, son of the preceding, born in Paris, June 30, 1789, died there, Jan. 17, 1863. His education, both literary and artistic, was very irregular and unsystematic. His father imbued him with his own tastes for horses, military subjects, and caricatures. He was skilled in all bodily exercises. In 1807 he was made a conscript, but was released after his marriage with Mile. Louise Pujol in 1810. Soon after he exhibited his first military painting, " The Capture of a Redoubt." In this picture he broke away from the conventional classicism of David and his school, and henceforth through life he painted military subjects so as to represent the reality presented by observation and experience. In 1811 he was appointed designer to the depot of war. At the exhibition of 1812 he gained a first medal by " The Taking of an intrenched Camp." As a sub-lieutenant of the national guard he participated in the defence of the barrier of Clichy, a painting of which he afterward executed. After the restoration of the Bourbons, the royal family gave him commissions which he executed, but at the same time during many years he continued to paint pictures and make designs of scenes in the history of the grande armée and of the life of Napoleon, which the court regarded as almost seditious.
The "Dog of the Regiment," "Barrier of Clichy," "Soldier of "Waterloo," "Death of Poniatowski," "Bivouac of Col. Moncey," and many others became immensely popular, and engravings by the first artists of Paris and the newly discovered art of lithography made them known in every cottage of France. At the exhibition of 1822 most of his paintings were refused admission on account of their Bonapartist tendency. He then opened an exhibition in his own studio, which was attended by crowds. Louis Philippe, then duke of Orleans, and Charles X., both anxious to secure the friendship of so popular an artist, patronized him. In 1826 he was made a member of the institute, and in 1828 director of the French academy in Rome. After the accession of Louis Philippe Vernet was for a time the representative of the French government at Rome. In 1833 he visited Algiers, and in 1835 returned to Paris. He visited St. Petersburg in 1836, '38, and '42, Algiers in 1837, '45, and '53, and Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and Turkey in 1839-'40. On his travels he wrote many letters, which were published by M. Durande in 1864. In 1841 Vernet published a small work Du droit des peintres et des sculpteurs sur leurs outrages, and in 1848 a memoire, previously read before the institute, Des rapports entre le costume des Hébreux et des Arabes modernes, a subject which he had illustrated in a series of paintings, "Rebecca at the Well," "The Good Samaritan," and others.
But from 1836 to his death his principal labor was devoted to painting battle pieces and pieces illustrative of the life of the Arabs of Algiers. Among the latter are the "Lion Hunt," "Council of Arabs," and " Arab Mother rescuing her Child from a Lion;" among the battle pieces, Jena, Friedland, Wagram, and Fontenoy, and a whole series representing the exploits of the French in Algiers, the " Capture of the Smala," " Battle of Isly," and many others, some of them of immense size. He also made hundreds of designs for illustrated works. At the universal exposition of 1855 he received the grand medal of honor. In 1862 he had begun a religious painting in his villa at Hyeres. A severe fall led to his return to Paris, where he expired after several months of great suffering. His only child, Louise, married the painter Paul Delaroche, and left two sons, Horace and Philippe, who by a legal authorization assumed the name Delaroche-Yernet. - See Joseph, Carle et Horace Verriet, correspondance et biographies, by Durande (Paris, 1865).