Heim, the pre-eminent official painter of the Bourbon Restoration, is one of the least known painters to have achieved fame and success in France in the 1820s. His oil sketches have always been prized by connoisseurs, and this one is especially vigorous. It is one of two preparatory sketches for the much larger picture of the same subject that was shown at the Salon of 1824 (Musée du Louvre, Paris). The painting is filled with dramatic action as the Romans attack the Jerusalemites against a backdrop of classical buildings with crowds gathered on the steps.
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower left, indistinctly): Heim 1824
[art market, Paris, 1987–at least 1995]; sale, Sotheby's, New York, January 24, 2002, no. 72, for $18,000 to Mazoh; [Stephen Mazoh & Co., Rhinebeck, N.Y., 2002; sold to MMA]
Jean-Pierre Cuzin. "François-Joseph Heim (1787–1865), peintre d'esquisses." Bulletin de la Société de l'Histoire de l'Art Français, année 1991, (1992), pp. 205–6, fig. 15, discusses the three sketches for the painting "The Sack of Jerusalem" (Musée du Louvre, Paris, no. 5305): the earliest in the Musée de Beaux-Arts, Angers, one in the Louvre, and this one (art market, Paris, in 1987, whereabouts then unknown), the definitive modello, which is indistinctly signed and dated in the lower left, Heim 1824.
Isabelle Julia inLes années romantiques: Le peinture française de 1815 à 1850. Exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes. Paris, 1995, p. 399, under no. 111, lists it, under the entry for the sketch at the Louvre, as a modello with slightly different dimensions.
This is one of three sketches for the large finished painting Heim exhibited at the Salon of 1824 as no. 885: "Sujet tiré de l'histoire des Juifs, par Josephe". That work is now no. 5305 in the Musée du Louvre, Paris, where it is called "Le destruction de Jérusalem par les Romains". The other two sketches are in the Musée de Beaux-Arts, Angers (36 x 46 cm), and the Louvre (29 x 34 cm).