Francois Marius Granet - Encyclopedia

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FRANCOIS MARIUS GRANET (1777-1849), French painter, was born at Aix in Provence, on the 17th of December 1777; his father was a small builder. The boy's strong desires led his parents to place him - after some preliminary teaching from a passing Italian artist - in a free school of art directed by M. Constantin, a landscape painter of some reputation. In 1793 Granet followed the volunteers of Aix to the siege of Toulon, at the close of which he obtained employment as a decorator in the arsenal. Whilst a lad he had, at Aix, made the acquaintance of the young comte de Forbin, and upon his invitation Granet, in the year 1797, went to Paris. De Forbin was one of the pupils of David, and Granet entered the same studio. Later he got possession of a cell in the convent of Capuchins, which, having served for a manufactory of assignats during the Revolution, was afterwards inhabited almost exclusively by artists. In the changing lights and shadows of the corridors of the Capuchins, Granet found the materials for that one picture to the painting of which, with varying success, he devoted his life.

In 1802 he left Paris for Rome, where he remained until 1819, when he returned to Paris, bringing with him besides various other works one of fourteen repetitions of his celebrated Choeur des Capucins, executed in 1811. The figures of the monks celebrating mass are taken in this subject as a substantive part of the architectural effect, and this is the case with all Granet's works, even with those in which the figure subject would seem to assert its importance, and its historical or romantic interest. "Stella painting a Madonna on his Prison Wall," 1810 (Leuchtenberg collection); "Sodoma a, l'hopital," 1815 (Louvre); "Basilique basse de St Francois d'Assise," 1823 (Louvre); "Rachat de prisonniers," 1831 (Louvre); "Mort de Poussin," 1834 (Villa Demidoff, Florence), are among his principal works; all are marked by the same peculiarities, everything is sacrificed to tone. In 181g Louis Philippe decorated Granet, and afterwards named him Chevalier de l'Ordre St Michel, and Conservateur des tableaux de Versailles (1826). He became member of the institute in 1830; but in spite of these honours, and the ties which bound him to M. de Forbin, then director of the Louvre, Granet constantly returned to Rome. After 1848 he retired to Aix, immediately lost his wife, and died himself on the 21st of November 1849. He bequeathed to his native town the greater part of his fortune and all his collections, now exhibited in the Musee, together with a very fine portrait of the donor painted by Ingres in 1811.

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