New acquisitions: French romantic painting in Rome

By on October 24, 2017
Anna Danielsson/Nationalmuseum

National Museum has acquired works of three French romantic painters, operating in Rome in the early 19th century. The three paintings are in the border between outdoor painting and popular genre. They are based on direct observations on the subject, but are probably all or part performed in the studio. In varying degrees contributes the figures to that the work has a narrative character.

Most pronounced is this anecdotal or historizing page of François-Marius Granets (1775-1849) painting Audiens at Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini in the loggian of Villa Belvedere, Frascati. The action dates back to 1600, but the outlook shows the appearance of the garden when the Granet was staying there in 1822. The choice of motif was a way from the artist to please his host, Prince Aldobrandini Borghese, a late relative of the Cardinal and brother-in-law to the famed Pauline Borghese, Emperor Napoleon’s sister. Granet was at first-hand genre painter specializing in religious ceremonies derived from his own time or purely historical motives. A recurring element is therefore often monks, priests and other church dignitaries. The architecture is appealing with picturesque shapes and a refined light treatment. The granite was based on studies on the site. Many of these immediate observations are found in the National Museum’s acquisition.

François-Marius Granet came to Rome in 1802 and he would stay for more than twenty years. Of a more episode-like nature, Jean-Victor Bertins (1767-1842) became a one-year stay in the city. Like many other significant French landscape painters, he was a pupil of the open air painting pioneer Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes. Bertin performed partly historical landscapes, partly views of a unique atmosphere based on outdoor studies. They were populated by people from his own time. Most of it speaks for that this latter type of landscape is made in studio. They became very popular, repeated by the artist in several copies and reproduced on porcelain plates. In the years 1806-1807, Bertin made a study trip to Italy. There he painted the recently acquired View of Tivoli seen upstream from Cascata Vecchia. The view has a lot of outdoor painting like the bright light. At the same time, Bertin has adapted the motive to the prevailing image convention by providing the painting with a figure of character, praying at an altar. Together with other works by him, this gives an explanation of the topographical references with great measure of accuracy in the representation of details that Danish Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg committed himself to both in Paris and Rome.

The same can be said of Lancelot-Théodore Turpin de Crissé (1782-1859) whose view of Antoninus and Faustina’s temple / Church of San Lorenzo in Miranda, in Rome, painted around 1807. He had come to the city at the same time to work for the Count Choiseul-Gouffier with its famous plansché Voyage pittoresque de la Grèce, published two years later. The Count also ordered a larger version of the Roman Forum view with the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, which was exhibited at the Salon in Paris in 1808. The finished painting, now at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, is featured with many characters. Contrary to this completed work, the artist’s preparatory study, now acquired by the National Museum, has only a few figures and has maintained the fresh nature of the oil study. This newly discovered painting precedes Eckersberg’s famous version of the same motif (New Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen) painted eight years later.

The acquisitions have been made available through donations from Sara and John Emil Graumann’s donation funds, Ulf Lindahl’s donation funds and the Wiros Foundation. The National Museum has no own means of acquiring arts and crafts for, but the collections are enriched by gifts, as well as foundation and funds.

Helena Olofsson, Culture & Music | Stockholm