National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Hunting in the Pontine Marshes Horace Vernet (artist)
French, 1789 - 1863
Hunting in the Pontine Marshes, 1833
oil on canvas
overall: 100 x 137 cm (39 3/8 x 53 15/16 in.) framed: 113 x 149.2 x 4.4 cm (44 1/2 x 58 3/4 x 1 3/4 in.)
Chester Dale Fund
1989.3.1
Not on View
From the Tour: Romantics and Realists
Object 2 of 7

Though less well-known than other painters on this tour, Horace Vernet was regarded by many in his day as one of the greatest French artists of all time. Horace's forthright and accurate reporting of facts was already being disparaged by some romantic critics before his death -- and more recently he has been compared to Norman Rockwell. Increasingly, however, his naturalism is appreciated as foreshadowing the work of realists like Courbet.

This painting was made in Italy after Vernet had been appointed director of the French Academy in Rome. Following the July Revolution of 1830, which installed "Citizen King" Louis Philippe, Vernet found himself the most senior French official in the city -- an uncomfortable post, given the antipathy of the pope and Italian public toward a more liberal French monarchy. It was often advantageous to be out of town, and the painter's love of hunting offered frequent opportunities.

Here, tiny figures are overshadowed by the wild landscape -- an ancient wooded marsh some forty kilometers from Rome. Vernet described it as a majestic place, where the presence of man did not interrupt the order of nature.

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