Anchor’s Aweigh | On a Ship With Vernet

[Seaport by Moonlight (La nuit un port de mer au clair de lune) Musee du Louvre, Paris]

French landscape and seascape artist Claude-Joseph Vernet was born in Avignon, France on 14 August, 1714.  At the age of 14, Vernet worked for his father Antoine, a skilled decorative painter, creating panels for sedan chairs. Wanting more than this, the young Vernet left home and headed for Italy.

  • On the sea voyage, Vernet saw magnificent whales off Marseilles, and on arrival in Italy entered the studios of whale painter Bernardino Fergioni and marine landscape artist, Adrien Manglard; who taught him the art of seascape painting. Vernet did further study under landscape designers and maritime painters such as Claude Gallee.

Vernet lived in Rome for nearly twenty years, producing views of seaports, storms, moonlights and large whales; which were becoming popular with English aristocrats; many of whom were on the European ‘Grand Tour’. Vernet achieved great celebrity with his serene landscape paintings and became one of the most accomplished artists of tempests and moonlight scenes.

  • Later, living in Paris in 1753, Vernet received a royal commission to paint a series of the seaports of France.
  • These are now known as the 15 Ports of France (1754–65) which show typical scenes of 18th-century life at land and sea.
  • This series is now located in the Louvre and the Musee National de la Marine.

Unfortunatley, his untimely death, at the age of 65, took place in his lodgings in the Louvre on 3 December 1789.

His lifetime’s art work remains ‘all at sea’

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