New acquisitions: French Romantic paintings of Rome

by François-Marius Granet, Jean-Victor Bertin and Lancelot-Théodore Turpin de Crissé

Nationalmuseum has acquired works by three French Romantic painters who worked in Rome in the early 19th century. The three paintings straddle the boundary of the plein air and vernacular genres. Although based on direct observation of the scene, all three are believed to have been wholly or partially painted in the studio. To varying degrees, figures lend the works a narrative character.

This anecdotal or historicising aspect is most pronounced in François-Marius Granet's (1775–1849) painting Audience with Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini in the Loggia at the Villa Belvedere, Frascati. The action is set around 1600, but the view shows the garden as it looked when Granet visited in 1822. The artist probably chose the scene to please his host, Prince Aldobrandini-Borghese, a descendant of the cardinal and brother-in-law of the notorious Pauline Borghese, Emperor Napoleon's sister. Granet was primarily a genre painter specialising in contemporary religious ceremonies and purely historical scenes. Monks, priests and other ecclesiastical dignitaries are therefore a recurring feature. The architecture is attractive, with picturesque forms and a refined treatment of light. Granet based his work on studies made on location. Much of this directly observed quality survives in the piece recently acquired by Nationalmuseum.

François-Marius Granet arrived in Rome in 1802 and stayed for more than 20 years. Jean-Victor Bertin's (1767–1842) one-year sojourn in the city was more episodic in nature. Like many other notable French landscape painters, he was a pupil of Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes, the pioneer of plein air painting. Bertin painted a mixture of historicised landscapes and distinctively atmospheric views based on plein air studies, populated by people from his own time. All the indications are that the latter kind of landscapes were painted In the studio. They achieved great popularity and were replicated multiple times by the artist and reproduced on china plates. In 1806–07 Bertin undertook a study tour of Italy, where he painted the recently acquired View of Tivoli Upstream of Cascata Vecchia. The scene has many of the characteristics of plein air painting, such as sharp light, but Bertin also tailored it to the artistic conventions of the time by including a staffage figure praying at an altar. This and other works by Bertin inspired the Danish artist Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg's enthusiasm for topographical references, with very accurate reproduction of details, during his time in Paris and Rome.

The same can be said of Lancelot-Théodore Turpin de Crissé (1782–1859) and his View of the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina or the Church of San Lorenzo in Miranda, in Rome, painted around 1807. The artist had come to the city at that time to work for Count Choiseul-Gouffier on his famous illustrated work Voyage pittoresque de la Grèce, published two years later. The count also commissioned a larger version of the view from the Forum Romanum with the temple of Antoninus and Faustina, which was exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1808. The finished painting, now at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, includes numerous staffage figures. In contrast to this complete work, the artist's preparatory study, now acquired by Nationalmuseum, includes only a few figures and retains the fresh character of an oil sketch. This newly discovered piece anticipates Eckersberg's famous version of the same scene (Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen) painted eight years later.

These acquisitions have been made possible by generous donations from the Sara and John Emil Graumann Bequest, the Ulf Lundahl Bequest and the Wiros Fund. Nationalmuseum has no budget of its own for new acquisitions, but relies on gifting and financial support from private funds and foundations to enhance its collections of fine art and craft.

Inventory numbers

NM 7372, François-Marius Granet, Audience with Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini in the Loggia at the Villa Belvedere, Frascati

NM 7398, Jean-Victor Bertin, View of Tivoli Upstream of Cascata Vecchia

NM 7401, Lancelot-Théodore Turpin de Crissé, The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina or the Church of San Lorenzo in Miranda

Lancelot-Théodore Turpin de Crissé, The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina or the Church of San Lorenzo in Miranda

Lancelot-Théodore Turpin de Crissé, The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina or the Church of San Lorenzo in Miranda. Photo: Anna Danielsson/Nationalmuseum. Large picture.

NM 7372, François-Marius Granet, Audiens hos kardinal Pietro Aldobrandini i loggian i Villa Belvedere, Frascati

François-Marius Granet, Audience with Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini in the Loggia at the Villa Belvedere, Frascati. Photo: Ceilia Heisser/Nationalmuseum.Large picture.

Jean-Victor Bertin, Vy av Tivoli sett uppströms från Cascata Vecchia
Jean-Victor Bertin, View of Tivoli Upstream of Cascata Vecchia. Photo: Cecilia Heisser/Nationalmuseum. Large picture.


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