François-Marius Granet (1775 - 1849)

Monks on the Staircase of the Villa of Maecenas at Tivoli Sold

Pen and brown ink and brown wash, with touches of watercolour.
Inlaid on an old mount.
Signed Granet. and inscribed villa mécène / 15=2/40. in the lower margin.
193 x 157 mm. (7 5/8 x 6 1/4 in.)

ACQUIRED BY THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS.

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In his memoirs, Granet often makes reference to the priests and monks he met in Rome, and he portrayed the daily life of the monastery, church or cloister in numerous paintings. Such works found admirers throughout the artist’s clientele, and even Louis-Philippe himself wrote in a letter of 1826, ‘I like M. Granet’s souvenirs of Italy, those churches, those chapels, all that has a character I like, and then those ceremonies, those Italian priests or monks who delight me...All of this from the brush of M. Granet takes on a truth and vigor that carry one away...’ This small but atmospheric drawing was probably part of an album of Roman views of the type that Granet would assemble and produce as gifts for friends or for sale to collectors.

Granet made his first visit to Tivoli in 1804, and returned there often during his stay in Italy. Here he depicts the staircase at the entrance to the Villa of Maecenas, with the darkness of the foreground contrasted with the bright sunlight at the top of the stairs. A slighty smaller variant of this drawing by Granet, with differences in staffage, was formerly in the collection of John Gaines in Lexington, KY, and was sold at auction in New York in 2001.

Another watercolour view of the Villa of Maecenas at Tivoli, showing a view of the former stables similarly populated by monks, was on the New York art market in 1985. An oil sketch of an almost identical view of the staircase of the Villa of Maecenas, generally attributed to Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot but more recently given, albeit tentatively, to Granet, is in the Gere collection at the National Gallery in London.

Literature:
Christopher Riopelle and Xavier Bray, A Brush with Nature: The Gere Collection of Landscape Oil Sketches, exhibition catalogue, London, National Gallery, 1999, p.64, fig.21, under no.18.

François-Marius GRANET

Monks on the Staircase of the Villa of Maecenas at Tivoli

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