65. François-Marius Granet

Aix-en-Provence 1775 – 1849 Aix-en-Provence

View of the Colosseum, c. 1814(?)

The son of a mason, Granet began his training in his native Aix-en-Provence before moving to Paris in 1797 and joining the atelier of David. He first travelled to Rome in 1802, and would spend most of the following two decades in the city. Fascinated by the motif of the arch, Granet made several studies of the Colosseum. This particular view seems to illustrate what has been described as the “antipicturesque” quality of the oil sketch. As these studies were mostly intended for personal use, artists could reject the traditional conventions of landscape painting and choose to represent subjects which were decidedly unpicturesque in contemporary terms, such as views of decrepit walls or nondescript rooftops. And even when depicting celebrated sites, these artists refused to show them from their most obvious angle but instead presented them from unexpected viewpoints. Here, Granet’s ingenious composition evokes in the viewer the impression of having casually stumbled upon the ancient ruins, which are inserted into everyday life rather than presented as part of an idealised landscape. The painting belonged to the Swiss artist Gérard de Palézieux (1919–2012), who bequeathed it to the Musée Jenisch Vevey.