British Officers in Paris - After Carle Vernet, 1814
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Hand coloured lithograph. Caricature of two Cavalry Officers, back view, strolling arm-in-arm.
As Charles Baudelaire wrote of the artist, ‘He was an astonishing man, was Carle Vernet. His collected works are a whole world, a little Comédie humaine of their own; for trivial prints, sketches of the crowd and street, and caricatures, often constitute the most faithful mirror of life.’
Antoine-Charles Horace Vernet (better known as Carle Vernet) (1739-1836) is known primarily as an exceptional painter of horses in full movement, be it racing, hunting or miltary. Vernet trained under his father, Claude-Joseph Vernet, who was himself a noted artist. In 1782 Carle Vernet won the highly coveted Prix de Rome, and in 1808 Napoleon awarded him the Legion d’Honneur for one of his battle scenes.
During the French Revolution his sister was guillotined for concealing letters to members of the aristocracy. After this, Vernet concentrated much of his efforts on creating images of daily life. This is especially true of his work after 1816, when he produced engravings of street vendors, horse markets, and comical scenes everyday life.
According to Philip Haythornthwaite, author of Who was Who in the Napoleonic Wars, Vernet was "...a distinguished historical painter and lithographer, perhaps best known as a painter of horses and as a caricaturist, but his military work was extensive, including battle-scenes (his painting of Austerlitz was rewarded by Napoleon with the Légion d'honneur)." Vernet painted numerous uniform studies, including the French Bardin Regulations of 1812, Recueil de chevaux de tout genre (on Guard and line cavalry), troops occupying Paris from 1815 - 1821, and Cossacks. His battle paintings include Eve of Austerlitz, Napoleon before Madrid, and some of Arcole and Marengo.