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Émile Jean-Horace Vernet was a French painter of battles, portraits, and Orientalist Arab subjects. Vernet was born to Carle Vernet, another famous painter, who was himself a son of Claude Joseph Vernet. Fittingly, he was born in the Paris Louvre, while his parents were staying there during the French Revolution. Vernet quickly developed a disdain for the high-minded seriousness of academic French art influenced by Classicism, and decided to paint subjects taken mostly from contemporary culture. Therefore, he began depicting the French soldier in a more familiar, vernacular manner rather than in an idealized, Davidian fashion. Some of his paintings that represent French soldiers in a more direct, less idealizing style, include Dog of the Regiment, Trumpeter's Horse, and Death of Poniatowski.
He gained recognition during the Bourbon Restoration for a series of battle paintings commissioned by the duc d'Orleans, the future King Louis-Philippe. Critics marveled at the incredible speed with which he painted. Many of his paintings made during this early phase of his career were considered to combine anecdotal accuracy with a charged romantic landscape. Examples of paintings in this style include the Battle of Valmy, the Battle of Jemmappes, and the Battle of Montmirail.
Also, he accompanied the French Army during the Crimean War, producing several important paintings, including one of the Battle of the Alma. In addition, his depictions of Algerian battles, such as the French occupation of the Pass of Mouzaia, were well-received, as they were natural depictions of the French army at hand. In fact, when Emperor Louis Napoleon asked Vernet to remove a certain obnoxious general from one of his paintings, he replied, "I am a painter of history, sire, and I will not violate the truth." Vernet died in his hometown of Paris in 1863.
In Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes story "The Greek Interpreter" Holmes claims to be related to Vernet, stating, "My ancestors were country squires... my grandmother... was the sister of Vernet, the French artist."
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