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Claude-Joseph Vernet, 'A Sporting Contest on the Tiber', 1750

Key facts
Full title A Sporting Contest on the Tiber
Artist Claude-Joseph Vernet
Artist dates 1714 - 1789
Date made 1750
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 99.1 × 135.9 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Presented by Mary, Lady Simpkinson, 1853
Inventory number NG236
Location Room 33
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Sporting Contest on the Tiber
Claude-Joseph Vernet

This view is taken from the west bank of the Tiber looking towards the Castel Sant’Angelo. The specific event depicted has not been identified but river jousts were a popular official form of entertainment, and attracted large crowds of spectators.

The flag at the stern of the boat at the left bears the arms of the then pope, Benedict XIV, and four large pennants with his family arms also fly from poles attached to the Castel Sant’Angelo. It has been suggested that the painting includes portraits of Vernet, his wife and her father. However, it is more likely that the three prominent figures in the foreground are Vernet; Louis-Jules Barbon Mancini Mazarini, Duke of Nivernais, who commissioned two paintings from Vernet in 1750; and the Duke’s wife.

This was one of four paintings sent from Rome by Vernet to the Paris Salon of 1750.

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