Art/ Collection/ Art Object

The Choir of the Capuchin Church in Rome

François Marius Granet (French, Aix-en-Provence 1775–1849 Aix-en-Provence)
Oil on canvas
77 1/2 x 58 1/4 in. (196.9 x 148 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of P. L. Everard, 1880
Accession Number:
Not on view
Granet conceived this subject during Napoleon's occupation of Rome, at which time the Capuchin order had been banished from its seventeenth-century church near piazza Barberini. Despite French policy, the painting was purchased by the Emperor's sister Caroline Murat, Queen of Naples, for their brother Louis Bonaparte. He had seen it in Granet’s studio, where it created a sensation at the end of 1814, prompting Pope Pius VII to grant the artist an audience. This is the first version of a composition that Granet painted, by his own count, at least fifteen times.
Inscription: Signed, dated, and inscribed: (lower right) GRANET / 1815; (center right, on doorframe): F.A.BARRI
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Bonaparte, later Napoléon III (by 1846–at least 1851; consigned to Christie's, London, June 21, 1851, no. 84, but withdrawn prior to sale); Prosper Leopold Everard, Paris (until 1880)
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).

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 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.

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.

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. 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. 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.

"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.

Eugène Delacroix. Journal entry. February 14, 1849 [Bibliothèque de l'Institut National d'Histoire de l'Art, collections Jacques Doucet, Paris, ms. 253 (1); published in Joubin 1932, vol. 1, p. 263; Hannoosh 2009, vol. 1, p. 421], states that at a dinner hosted by Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, "Le Prince a fait compliment à Ingres sur son beau tableau des Capucins [title in italics], lequel est de Granet [name in italics], et dont il est, dit-il, propriétaire. La figure d'Ingres était curieuse en entendant ce coq-à-l'âne".

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.

Samuel P. Avery. Letter to Luigi Palma di Cesnola, Director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. August 12, 1880, notes that Mr. Everard offered the picture to the museum at his [Avery's] suggestion, and that it was seen and approved by [John Taylor] Johnston.

John Denison Champlin Jr. and Charles C. Perkins, ed. 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. Les Membres de l'Académie des Beaux-Arts depuis la fondation de l'institut. Vol. 2, 1816–1852. 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.

André Joubin. Journal de Eugène Delacroix. Paris, 1932, vol. 1, p. 263, publishes Delacroix's 1849 journal entry; misreads the name "Auger" as "Auguste" [see Hannoosh 2009].

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. French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 2, XIX Century. 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.

Joseph Focarino, ed. "Memoirs of the Painter Granet." François-Marius Granet: Watercolors from the Musée Granet. By François Marius 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.

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

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

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 The Cleveland Museum of Art Catalogue of Paintings: Part Four., European Paintings of the 19th Century. Cleveland, 1999, vol. 1, 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".

Olivier Bonfait and Antoinette Le Normand-Romain. French Artists in Rome: Ingres to Degas, 1803–1873. Ed. Roger Diederen. 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. Ed. Olivier Bonfait. Exh. cat., Villa Medici, Rome. [Milan], 2003, pp. 471–72 under no. 125, notes that there are seventeen versions of this composition.

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

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. Ed. Dominik Gügel and Christina Egli. 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].

Michèle Hannoosh, ed. Eugène Delacroix: Journal. Paris, 2009, vol. 1, p. 421, publishes Delacroix's 1849 journal entry, observing that the artist took pleasure in Louis-Napoléon's gaffe at the expense of Ingres.

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).

Gennaro Toscano in Sur la route d'Italie: Peindre la nature d'Hubert Robert à Corot. Ed. Gennaro Toscano. Exh. cat., Musée d'Art, Histoire et Archéologie d'Evreux. Paris, 2014, pp. 116, 119, 224–25, fig. 1 (color), under no. 24, notes that it ws immortalized by poets and admired by Pope Pius VII and King Charles IV and that Granet made replicas of it for both royalty and refined collectors.

Granet (1847) stated that he made fifteen or sixteen versions of this composition, at least eleven of which are documented by Coutagne (2005).

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.
Related Objects

Monk Seated Before a Ruined Gateway

Artist: François Marius Granet (French, Aix-en-Provence 1775–1849 Aix-en-Provence) Date: n.d. Medium: Pen and brown ink, watercolor Accession: 1978.292.2 On view in:Not on view

A Cardinal Examining a Painting in a Cloister

Artist: François Marius Granet (French, Aix-en-Provence 1775–1849 Aix-en-Provence) Date: first half 19th century Medium: Pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash, watercolor, over black chalk. Accession: 1990.3 On view in:Not on view

View from the Villa Medici, Rome

Artist: Attributed to François Marius Granet (French, Aix-en-Provence 1775–1849 Aix-en-Provence) Medium: Oil on paper, laid down on illustration board Accession: 2009.400.71 On view in:Not on view

View of Notre Dame de Versailles from the plaine de Rocquencourt towards the South

Artist: Attributed to François Marius Granet (French, Aix-en-Provence 1775–1849 Aix-en-Provence) Date: probably ca. 1833–47 Medium: Oil on paper, mounted on canvas Accession: 2016.802.11 On view in:Not on view

Ponte San Rocco and Waterfalls, Tivoli

Artist: François Marius Granet (French, Aix-en-Provence 1775–1849 Aix-en-Provence) Date: ca. 1810–20 Medium: Oil on canvas Accession: 1996.181 On view in:Gallery 805