VERNET, Claude-Joseph
(b. 1714, Avignon, d. 1789, Paris)

Shipwreck

1763
Oil on canvas, 102 x 126 cm
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg

Vernet's repertoire was a limited one, consisting of landscapes, more-or-less reminiscent of Tivoli with its picturesque hills, overhanging rocks, waterfalls, and pastoral staffage; or more commonly marines, showing a rocky Italianate coastline, usually populated with fisherfolk, or a seaboard tamed by the hand of man into harbour with a mole and lighthouse reminiscent of Naples and represented at different times of day and in different weather conditions. Within this formulaic types, there was a considerable variety of pictorial motifs, which Vernet could mix and match with such a degree of invention that in an oeuvre of about two thousand paintings he never exactly repeated himself, except when he may have made an autograph replica. The Shipwreck is a characteristic work depicting a subject which Vernet painted in several versions.