Granet’s first teacher was the landscape painter Jean Antoine Constantin (called Constantin d’Aix) but he is generally regarded as a pupil of Jacques Louis David, with whom he studied in Paris (1797–99), and in whose atelier he became a close friend of J. A. D. Ingres, with whom he would form a lifelong bond. In 1802 Granet traveled with his Aixois friend Forbin, later director of the Louvre, to Rome. There, he developed a strain of genre painting that combines Dutch seventeenth-century models (popular with aristocratic collectors in Paris since the prior century) with scenes from everyday Roman life.
Granet’s genre pictures are decidedly architectural in nature. They tend to take minor monuments and lesser-known interiors as settings, often in the vicinity of the artist’s rented rooms near the Spanish Steps, the center of the artists’ district in Rome. Among the earliest examples is this painting, which the artist sent to the Paris Salon in 1808, together with two similar subjects. The cloister belongs to the late seventeenth-century church of Gesù e Maria (entered through the door at left), which boasts a typically sumptuous Baroque sanctuary that is otherwise no more remarkable than any in Rome. It is situated on the Via del Corso, the thoroughfare that originates at nearby Piazza del Popolo, where travelers from the north of Rome spilled into the city, and ends at Piazza Venezia, near the foot of the Capitoline Hill.
Granet’s most famous work in this mode is The Choir of the Capuchin Church in Rome
, completed in 1815 (The Met, 80.5.2
), of which there are approximately a dozen variants.
[Asher Ethan Miller 2013]