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Claude-Joseph Vernet, A River with Fishermen

Key facts
Full title A River with Fishermen
Artist Claude-Joseph Vernet
Artist dates 1714 - 1789
Date made 1751
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 59.1 × 74.3 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by John Henderson, 1879
Inventory number NG1057
Location On loan: Masterpieces from the National Gallery, Chimei Museum, Tainan City, Taiwan
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A River with Fishermen
Claude-Joseph Vernet

On the banks of a wide meandering river, men and women are catching fish. Vernet has used the brightly lit woman in red and the jutting tree as devices to draw our eye into the composition. A man with a rod and a basket of fish sits next to the river with his back to a large mossy rock. His dog has been alerted to something in the water, but the fishing line is slack – perhaps the fisherman is just about to get a bite. Vernet reused the temple-like building in the middle ground, with its echoes of the Pantheon in Rome, in several of his other paintings.

The perspective is enhanced by the zigzag of the river between the rocky banks (resembling stage scenery) and also by the way that the landscape becomes paler as it recedes into the distance. Vernet’s idealised vision of the Italianate landscape continues the classical landscape tradition of Claude and Poussin.

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