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The Choir of the Capuchin Church, Rome

GRANET, François-Marius (1775 - 1849)

[image: The Choir of the Capuchin Church, Rome]

Date: 1817

Media: oil on canvas

Size: 198.0 x 147.1 cm

Acquired: 1979; Purchase

Accession Number: NMW A 481

[image: Buy a print]

The setting is the choir of Santa Maria della Concezione. In 1809 Napoleon annexed the Papal States and the Roman monasteries were dissolved. Granet, a French artist settled in Rome, regretted this and sought to convey the serenity of the cloister. This composition established his reputation and exists in numerous versions. He recalled:

'I searched in vain in the monasteries for the sweet peace I had once possessed. This led me to the monastery of the Capuchins on the Piazza Barerini; but the good Capuchines were no longer there....and dust was beginning to take possession of the carved mouldings on the handsome woodwork, which only recently had glistened. The central lectern looked already like a piece of furniture in storage, and its huge missals were no longer opened. Despite this solitude, I could still follow in my mind's eye the movement of all the monks... the young novices, with their foreheads calm and resigned after bidding the world farewell, and ..the old men, with their severe heads and noble countenance on which one discovered the traces of austerity engraved by the time. My spirit was so keenly aroused by all these thoughts that I resolved to do a large painting on this subject'.

2 comments

Elisabeth Roark on 24 June 2014, 20:41

Am currently in Rome and could not get into the Capuchin church in the Piazza Barberini, but pictures online suggest it is quite a grand Baroque space. Is this another room? This is the church with the famous crypt decorated with the monk's bones?

I'm a professor of art history in the US, and know this painting through Thomas Sully's copy.

Paul Jones on 2 June 2012, 10:33

The painting should be mirrored along the horizontal axis, the person kneeling is acually on the right and the choirboy is on the left in the original hanging in the Gallery when I saw it yesterday.

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