|Claude- Joseph Vernet by Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun, 1778|
On this, the anniversary of the birth of artist, Claude-Joseph Vernet, I thought the time was right to examine some of his remarkable works. The son of a painter, Vernet was noted for the beautiful landscape paintings he produced and he often exhibited contrasting works together, demonstrating the harmony and savagery of nature. Vernet lived for many years in Italy and fell in love with the world of the ocean, depicting wild storms and tranquil surfaces, with ships both in peril and safely sailing into port. These contrasts are nowhere clearer than in his series, Two Landscapes: A Sunset and a Storm.
|A Shipwreck in Stormy Seas by Claude-Joseph Vernet, 1773|
|A Landscape at Sunset by Claude-Joseph Vernet, 1773|
Contrast the violence the lightning flaring in the sky with the gentle depiction of soft sunlight on the tranquil waves depicted in its partner, A Landscape at Sunset. Here the waters are not a place of danger but of commerce and recreation, with people fishing and taking the air as the ships that appear so fragile in the storm sail majestically out of port. If this is the maritime dream then A Shipwreck in Stormy Seas is its nightmare flipside, the idea of the ocean as a source of riches depicted likewise as a source of danger.
As a lady who loves the sea, these are richly evocative works and I could study them for hours. Vernet's paintings are so rich in detail and these are only two, I heartily recommend that you seek out others!