b. 1758 Bordeaux, France, d. 1836 Paris
In addition to being a painter and lithographer, Carle Vernet was an avid horseman. Just days before his death at the age of seventy-eight, he was seen racing as if he were a sprightly young man. In his own time, Vernet was known primarily as an exceptional painter of horses in full movement--either racing, hunting or in cavalry portraits. Vernet received a conventional artistic education from his father, Claude-Joseph Vernet, as well as from a very successful history and genre painter. In 1782 he won the highly coveted Prix de Rome, and in 1808 Napoleon awarded him the Legion of Honor for one of his battle scenes. Although his sister was guillotined for concealing letters to members of the aristocracy, Vernet's work does not reflect tragedy. Instead, he concentrated much of his efforts on creating acute observations of daily life. This is especially true of his work after 1816, when he produced engravings of street vendors, horse markets, and dandies. Today Vernet is recognized more for his witty, satirical engravings than for his paintings. He is also frequently thought of in association with his son Horace, whose painting talents he fostered and who became even more famous than his father.
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