Carle Vernet revisited for Thursday Art Day

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Carle Vernet revisited for Thursday Art Day

Carmel Rowley


I’m thrilled to feature Carle Vernet this Thursday. After breeding Arabian horses for some forty years there was always a vision of truth in my mind’s eye concerning the appearance of the Arabian horse in the 1800’s. The artists Victor Adam and Carle Vernet painted not only the romance but an exact duplicate of the vision in my minds eye. They were the horses of my dreams the type of Arabian I longed to match.

Mameluke the grand gallop

Vernet’s Desert horses are full of strength and vigour. Though clearly small in stature with refined limbs Vernet’s Arabian horses had a symmetry and balance I have considered vital in a pure-bred Arabian. Vernet perfectly depicted the character and personality of the horses he painted.

Mameluke 3

 In many situations his horses were brave and willing, defiant and surefooted, while others were supremely beautiful. When it comes to Vernets art you feel the connection, the bond and the communication between the Mameluke and his horse.

Mameluke resting

To this end the Arabic patriarchs who were famous for their wisdom have said; “Sidi-Aomar, the prophet’s companion, has said: ‘Love horses and look after them; for they deserve your tenderness; treat them as you do your children; nourish them as you do your friends and family, and blanket them with care. For the love of God, do not be negligent for you will regret it in this life and the next.’ “
Prophetic words that any serious breeder should reflect upon. It is now some 183 years since the death of Carle Vernet. I wonder what he would think about the desert horses of today? There are many religious traditions regarding the Arabian horse that are written in the most poetic language. But what makes us a proponent of the Arabian horse is knowledge, knowing about him.


When you combine the writings and the great works of art depicting the true horse of the desert,

I hear the voice of W. S. Blunt saying; “It should therefore be a cardinal principle … that the object

… is to preserve in its perfection, not to improve the breed.”

Mameluke with drawn sword 2

Vernet, Carle (1758-1835)

Antoine Charles Horace Vernet aka. Carle Vernet was a French painter, the youngest child of Claude Joseph Vernet, and the father of Horace Vernet. Born in Bordeaux, Vernet was a pupil of Nicolas-Bernard Lépicié. Strangely, after winning the grand prix (1782), his father had to recall him to France to prevent him from entering a monastery.
In his Triumph of Paulus Aemilius, he broke with tradition and drew the horse with the forms he had learnt from nature in stables and riding-schools. His hunting-pieces, races, landscapes, and work as a lithographer were also very popular. Carle’s sister was executed by the guillotine during the Revolution. When he again began to produce, his style had changed radically. His drawings of Napoleon’s Italian campaign won acclaim as did the Battle of Marengo, and for his Morning of Austerlitz Napoleon awarded him the Legion of Honour. Louis XVIII of France awarded him the Order of Saint Michael.

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