French Painter, 1714-1789
Vernet probably received his first lessons in painting from his father, Antoine, who then encouraged him to move to the studio of Philippe Sauvan (1697-1792), the leading master in Avignon. Sauvan supplied altarpieces to local churches and decorative works and mythologies for grand houses in the area. After this apprenticeship Vernet worked in Aix-en-Provence with the decorative painter Jacques Viali ( fl 1681- 1745), who also painted landscapes and marine pictures. In 1731 Vernet independently produced a suite of decorative overdoors for the h?tel of the Marquise de Simiane at Aix-en-Provence; at least two of these survive (in situ) and are Vernet's earliest datable landscapes. These are early indications of his favoured type of subject, and Vernet would have studied works attributed to such 17th-century masters as Claude Lorrain, Gaspard Dughet and Salvator Rosa in private collections at Aix and Avignon. Three years later Joseph de Seytres, Marquis de Caumont, who had previously recommended Vernet to the Marquise de Simiane, offered to sponsor a trip to Italy.