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The Choir of the Capuchin Church in Rome

François Marius Granet (French, Aix-en-Provence 1775–1849 Aix-en-Provence)

Date:
1814–15
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
77 1/2 x 58 1/4 in. (196.9 x 148 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Gift of P. L. Everard, 1880
Accession Number:
80.5.2
  • Gallery Label

    François-Marius Granet, a notably pious man, conceived this subject in reaction to anticlericalism during Napoleon's occupation of Rome. The French authorities banished the Capuchin order from the church of the Immaculate Conception, near the Piazza Barberini, even billeting troops there for a time. Nevertheless, this painting of the church's interior was purchased by the emperor's sister Caroline Murat, queen of Naples, for her brother Louis Bonaparte, who had seen it exhibited in the painter's studio, where it created a sensation at the end of 1814. Pius VII, the same pope who had been forced to preside over Napoleon's coronation a decade earlier, asked to meet the artist as a result of the exhibition. Granet went on to paint perhaps a dozen or more versions of this subject, most on commission. It is without doubt his most famous composition.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed, dated, and inscribed: (lower right) GRANET / 1815; (center right, on doorframe): F.A.BARRI

  • Provenance

    Queen Caroline Murat, Naples (in 1814 or early 1815; completed for her for 1,000 Roman piastres but ceded by her, without taking possession, to Bonaparte); her brother, Louis Bonaparte, comte de Saint-Leu, Paris (by early 1815–d. 1846); his son, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, later Napoléon III (by 1846–at least 1851; consigned to Christie's, London, June 21, 1851, no. 84, but withdrawn prior to sale); Prosper Leopold Everard, Paris (until 1880)

  • Exhibition History

    Rome. Granet's studio, via delle Quattro Fontane. December 1814, no catalogue.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Painter's Light," October 5–November 10, 1971, no. 12.

    Huntington, N.Y. Heckscher Museum. "Windows and Doors," January 30–March 19, 1972, no. 15 (as "Choir of the Capuchin Church of Santa Maria della Concezione, Rome").

    Aix-en-Provence. Musée Granet. "Granet, peintre de Rome," June 19–December 31, 1992, unnumbered cat. (colorpl. 178).

    New York. Dahesh Museum of Art. "French Artists in Rome: Ingres to Degas, 1803–1873," September 3–November 2, 2003, unnumbered cat.

    Aix-en-Provence. Musée Granet. "Granet une vie pour la peinture," July 5–October 31, 2008, unnumbered cat. (colorpl. 179).

  • References

    François Marius Granet. Letter to Caroline Murat. [1812] [published in Ref. Néto 1995, p. 27 no. 41], states that his bad health has prevented him from delivering this picture.

    François Marius Granet. Letter to Louis-Nicolas Lemasle. [December 1814] [published in Ref. Néto 1995, p. 34, no.56], mentions his intention to present this painting in person to the Queen.

    François Marius Granet. Letter to Philippe Guyon. [1814] [published in Ref. Néto 1995, p. 32, no.53], states that this picture is in his studio and intended for the Queen of Naples.

    François Marius Granet. Letter to Louis-Denis Grégoire. December 17, 1814 [published in Ref. Néto 1995, pp. 33–34, no. 55], states that he has been unable to send this painting [to Paris] due to the weather and other difficulties but that he hopes to personally deliver it [to the Queen] in Naples.

    François Marius Granet. Letters to [chevalier de Soissons]. 1814/1815 [published in Ref. Néto 1995, pp. 34–35, nos. 57, 58], relates that the Queen's orders to deliver this painting to Louis Bonaparte have been carried out.

    chevalier de Soissons. Letter from chevalier de Soissons. December 16, [1814] [published in Ref. Néto 1995, p. 33, no.54], states that the Queen [Caroline Murat] is eagerly awaiting this painting.

    "Belle Arti — Pittura." Giornale Arcadico 1 (January–March 1819), p. 156.

    Albert de La Fizelière. Granet (François-Marius). n.d., pp. 6-7, notes that Granet made seventeen copies of this picture.

    François Marius Granet. Memoirs. [1847] [Engl. translation published in Ref. Focarino 1988, pp. 36, 38–40], describes the execution of this picture in detail; recounts that numerous visitors saw it in his studio, including Louis Bonaparte, who upon learning that it was promised to his sister, the Queen of Naples, asked her to give it to him instead; comments that he made fifteen or sixteen variations of the subject.

    Raoul- Rochette. Notice historique sur la vie et les ouvrages de M. Granet. Paris, 1851, pp. 75–81, provides an ancedotal history of this composition; states that of the fifteen or sixteen versions, the second was superior in execution.

    P[aulin]. Silbert. Notice historique sur la vie et l'oeuvre de Granet. Aix, 1862, pp. 26–28, discusses this painting in the context of Rome's loss of religious character [due to the French occupation], noting that Granet brought religious splendor back to the then-empty choir of the Capuchin Church; states that Granet painted fifteen or sixteen variations of this composition.

    Cyclopedia of Painters and Paintings. New York, 1892, vol. 2, pp. 167–68.

    Baron Guillibert. "Le Peintre Granet." Réunion des Sociétés des Beaux-Arts des départements 28 (April 5-8, 1904), p. 779, states that Caroline (Bonaparte) Murat, Queen of Naples, visited Granet's studio and bought the painting off the easel.

    Albert Soubies. "1816–1852." Les Membres de l'Académie des Beaux-Arts depuis la fondation de l'institut. 2, Paris, 1906, pp. 54–55, remarks that the intensity of the light make it seem beyond "les moyens ordinaires de la peinture"; relates that both a cardinal and a diplomat touched the canvas to confirm that it was actually a painting.

    L[ouis]. Dimier. Histoire de la peinture française au XIXe siècle (1793–1903). Paris, 1914, p. 33.

    Émile Ripert. François-Marius Granet (1775–1849), peintre d'Aix et d'Assise. Paris, 1937, pp. 71–74, 204–5, 208, 210 n. 1, describes the various replicas of this picture.

    Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. "XIX Century." French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2, New York, 1966, pp. 3–4, ill., state that this picture is likely the one bought by Caroline Murat (and later ceded to Louis Bonaparte) due to its large size, inscribed date, and origin from the collection of Napoleon III; note that Granet painted at least fifteen variations of this subject.

    John Walsh Jr. The Painter's Light. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1971, p. 8, no. 12, ill., states that it is probably the first version of the painting and calls the daylight a metaphor for the divine presence.

    E. Bénézit. Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des peintres, sculpteurs, dessinateurs et graveurs. new ed. Paris, 1976, vol. 5, p. 165.

    Albert Kostenevich. Western European Painting in the Hermitage: 19th–20th Centuries. Leningrad [St. Petersburg], 1987, p. 255, calls this version the original.

    François Marius Granet. "Memoirs of the Painter Granet." François-Marius Granet: Watercolors from the Musée Granet. Exh. cat., Frick Collection. New York, 1988, pp. 36, 38–40.

    Isabelle Néto-Daguerre in Isabelle Néto-Daguerre and Denis Coutagne. Granet, peintre de Rome. Exh. cat., Musée Granet. Aix-en-Provence, 1992, pp. 5, 70, 142–47, 169 n. 34, colorpl. 178, addresses the political connotations of this painting.

    Olivier Meslay in Peintures et sculptures du XIXe siècle: La collection du musée de Grenoble. Paris, 1995, p. 170.

    "Granet et son entourage." Archives de l'Art français 31 (1995), pp. 27, 32–35, 37, 256.

    Marc Fumaroli in Paesaggi perduti: Granet a Roma, 1802–1824. Exh. cat., American Academy in Rome. Milan, 1996, pp. 21–22, ill. p. 53.

    Louise d'Argencourt in "European Paintings of the 19th Century." The Cleveland Museum of Art Catalogue of Paintings: Part Four. 1, Cleveland, 1999, pp. 318, 320–2, 322 n.1, states that there are at least twenty versions of this composition; suggests the influence of Daguerre's lighting studies.

    Daniel Ternois. "Lettres d'Ingres à Marcotte d'Argenteuil." Archives de l'Art français 36 (2001), pp. 75, 77 n. 83, p. 116 n.7, discusses the likely influence of this picture on Ingres' "La Chapelle Borghèse".

    Stephen Bann in Maestà di Roma, da Napoleone all'unita d'Italia: D'Ingres à Degas, les artistes français à Rome. Exh. cat., Villa Medici, Rome. [Milan], 2003, p. 245.

    Olivier Bonfait and Antoinette Le Normand-Romain. French Artists in Rome: Ingres to Degas, 1803–1873. Exh. cat., Dahesh Museum of Art. New York, 2003, pp. 37, 63, ill. (color), call it probably the first of at least sixteen versions painted between 1814 and 1822; note that the scene is thought to represent the "Asperges," the blessing with holy water preceding Sunday High Mass.

    Denis Coutagne in Maestà di Roma, da Napoleone all'unita d'Italia: D'Ingres à Degas, les artistes français à Rome. Exh. cat., Villa Medici, Rome. [Milan], 2003, pp. 471–72 under no. 125, notes that there are seventeen versions of this composition.

    Denis Coutagne. François-Marius Granet, une vie pour la peinture, 1775–1849. Aix-en-Provence, 2005, pp. 137–42, 265-66 nn. 438, 445, 454, 459, ill. p. 178 (color), proposes that this picture was executed in 1813–14, after the occupying French troops left the Church, and that the inscribed date of 1815 refers to the year of acquisition by Louis Bonaparte; documents eleven or twelve known versions of the composition.

    Christina Egli. "Verschiebungen – Die spannenden Reisewege von kostbarem Mobiliar." Menschen im Schloss: Lebenswelt um 1900 auf dem kaiserlichen Gut Arenenberg. Frauenfeld, 2006, p. 107.

    Asher Ethan Miller in Masterpieces of European Painting, 1800–1920, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 18–19, 261, no. 16, ill. (color and black and white).

    Denis Coutagne. François-Marius Granet, 1775–1849: Une vie pour la peinture. Exh. cat.Paris, 2008, pp. 195–96, 200–204, 206, fig. 179 (color), as location unknown [revised version of Ref. Coutagne 2005].

    Asher Ethan Miller. "The Path of Nature: French Paintings from the Wheelock Whitney Collection, 1785–1850." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 70 (Winter 2013), pp. 25, 33, fig. 27 (color).



  • Notes

    In his memoirs, Granet [Ref. 1847] mentions that he made fifteen or sixteen versions of this composition. Coutagne [Ref. 2005] documents at least eleven.

    Owing to an early typographical error, the initials of the donor's forenames appeared in reverse order in the painting's credit line until this was corrected in 2013.

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