Emile Vernet-Lecomte

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Biography of Emile Vernet-Lecomte ( 1821-1900 )

Emile Vernet-Lecomte was a French painter from the Orientalist school. 

Born in a family of famous painters, he was the great-grandson of Claude-Joseph Vernet (1714-1789), the son of the painter Hippolyte Lecomte (1781-1857) who was the son-in-law of Carle Vernet (1758-1836). He studied at the Fine Arts School of Paris with the masters Léon Cogniet (1794-1880) and Horace Vernet (1789-1863), his uncle. 

His talent was quickly spotted and his masters considered that he inherited the genius of his great grandfather, Claude-Joseph Vernet. 

He began painting portraits of the bourgeoisie and the aristocracy. At the age of 22, he exhibited at the Parisian Salon of 1843 where he received a bronze medal. His first paintings were signed « Emile Lecomte » and then « Vernet-Lecomte ». In 1846, he received a third medal. 

He quickly showed a pronounced taste for Orientalism. His first orientalist canvas were exhibited at the Salon of 1847 (“Syrian’s face”and “Syrian woman”). He made numerous portraits of oriental women. 

The events of his time offered him news historical subjects such as the Crimean War (1853-1855) or the Massacre of Maronites by the Druze people in Syria (1860-1861). 

In 1864, he presented at the Salon a “Fellah Woman carrying his child”, currently preserved at the Fine Arts Museum of La Roche-sur-Yon. 

It is very likely that Emile Vernet-Lecomte traveled to Egypt around 1863 and to Algeria in 1869-1870. Based on these travel observations, Vernet-Lecomte created paintings documenting oriental folklore and rituals. “Young Amazigh woman, Algeria” particularly depicts a young Algerian woman whose traditional costume is meticulously painted, giving to this work an ethnographic value. 

He exhibited in different Salons between 1883 and 1892, met great success and obtained different commissions from the State, including wall decorations for the Church Saint -Louis en l’Île and the Palace of Justice of Paris.  

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