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Vernet, Emile Jean Horace

VERNET, EMILE JEAN HORACE (1789-1863), commonly called HORACE, son of ANTOINE CHARLES HORACE VERNET, born in Paris on the 30th of June 1789, was one of the most characteristic, if not one of the ablest, of the military painters of France. He was just twenty when he exhibited the " Taking of an Entrenched Camp " a work which showed no depth of observation, but was distinguished by a good deal of character. His picture of his own studio (the rendezvous of the Liberals under the Restoration), in which he represented himself painting tranquilly, whilst boxing, fencing, drum- and horn-playing, etc., were going on, in the midst of a medley of visitors, horses, dogs and models, is one of his best works, and, together with his " Defence of the Barrier at Clichy " (Louvre), won for him an immense popularity. Enjoying equal favour with the court and with the opposition, he was most improperly appointed director of the school of France at Rome, from 1828 to 1835, and thither he carried the atmosphere of racket in which he habitually lived. After his return the whole of the Constantine room at Versailles was decorated by him in the short space of three years. This vast work shows Vernet at his best and at his worst: as a picture it begins and ends nowhere and the composition is all to pieces; but it has good qualities of faithful and exact representation. He died at Paris on the 17th of January 1863. The twenty works which were exhibited after his death confirmed his reputation for extraordinary facility; he had tried every sort of subject, showing affinity for all that was anecdotic rather than dramatic, failing most wherever most was demanded of him, and never reaching either beauty of colour or dignity of line. Vernet was, in short, a brilliant off-hand sketcher of all he saw, as he said himself, "from his window," and even in this work there was a good deal of affectation of the impromptu.

See Lagrange, Joseph Vernet et la peinture au XVIII" siecle (1861) ; C. Blanc, Les Vernet (1845); A. Dayot, Les Vernet (1898).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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