Vernet spent twenty years in Italy between 1734 and 1753. As heir to the great landscape artists of the previous generation, he followed their example as well as that of exponents of the school of nature.
He made numerous sketching trips, painting from life on the coast and in the hills around Rome. His contemporaries marvelled at the realism with which he depicted nature’s bounty and his analysis of the variety of effects of the climate and the passing of the hours on a landscape.
Not content with “competing with nature”, he peopled his landscapes with graceful, picturesque figures to give a sense of scale, “a talent which Claude lacked”, wrote Diderot, his greatest admirer.
Vernet provided a international clientele, especially in Great Britain – his wife was British – with mementos of the most popular sites such as the famous fountains which he reproduced almost forty times.
M. A. P.
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