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"Cloister of Montreal, Sicily"

Documentation Signed
Origin France
Period 19th Century
Materials Ink and watercolor on paper
Dimensions
W. 10.5 in; H. 8 in; D. 0.25 in;
W. 26.67 cm; H. 20.32 cm; D. 0.64 cm;
Condition Very Good
Creation Date Circa 1810
Description Ink, and watercolor on paper by the famous French artist, Auguste de Forbin of the Cloisters of Monreale, in northern Sicily. Initialed lower right. Titled and signed verso. In very good condition; vibrant colors. Matted, unframed.

The Cloister of Monreale is a hidden gem of Norman architecture in northern Sicily. The Cathedral of Monreale is one of the best surviving relics of Norman architecture in Italy.

Its highlight is the hidden oasis of its cloister, surrounded by no less than 228 dazzlingly carved columns.

The centerpiece of the cloister is the stylised palm tree fountain. The monks use the fountain to wash their hands before entering the refectory.

Born at his family's château, La Roque-d'Anthéron, and a Chevallier of the Order of Malta from birth, he drew before he learned to write. In his earliest training he formed a friendship with François Marius Granet that lasted through life. In the counter-revolutionary insurrection at Lyon in 1793, where he was getting instruction from Jean-Jacques de Boissieu, he lost his father, the marquis de Pont-à-Mousson, and his uncle, and was saved only by his youth. The marquise withdrew with her children quietly to Vienne and then to Provence, weathering the extreme phases of the Revolution, while Forbin and Granet developed their art by drawing in the countryside. With the Directoire, it was secure for him to go to Paris, where his good looks and easy, elegant manner recommended him as well as his art. He called Granet to join him, and both entered the large studio of Jacques-Louis David, virtually a neoclassical academy, where they matured their taste. Forbin's first submissions to the Paris salon were in 1796, 1799 and 1800.

Army

He was conscripted into the army, married an heiress, Mlle de Dortan, then gained leave from his regiment in 1802 to travel to Rome with Granet, where he fell into the facile manner of a highly accomplished dilettante, as he was received by the best of Francophile Roman society; in 1804 he was given the post of chamberlain to Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte's sister Princess Pauline Borghese. They were lovers from 1805 to 1807, living together at the Place Forbin, Cours Mirabeau, Aix-en-Provence, from May to October 1807.

Rejoining the army, he served with distinction under Junot in Portugal, and received the Croix d'honneur, then served in the Austrian campaign of 1809, returning to Italy after the peace of Schönbrunn. Here he produced his history paintings, Ines de Castro and The Taking of Granada as well as a sentimental novel, Charles Barimore (published anonymously, Paris 1810).

Museum career

With the Bourbon Restoration, he was welcome in Paris to assume the post vacated by Vivant-Denon, too indelibly stamped with Napoleonic connections; the comte de Forbin was appointed Director-General of Royal Museums at the Musée Royal (the Louvre) and Musée du Luxembourg, which were suddenly denuded of their Napoleonic trophies, which were returned to Italy. The Borghese collection of antiquities purchased from Prince Camillo helped fill the void, and the former Cabinet du Roi and works of art in storage at Versailles. The suites of paintings by Rubens and Le Sueur from the Palais du Luxembourg now came to the Louvre, and the remnants of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic musée des Augustins, as the works that had been sequestered from churches were returned to them.

The Institut de France was now reorganized, and in the Académie des Beaux-Arts the comte de Forbin received a seat, by royal order, 16 April 1816. Forbin was made a commander of the Legion of Honor and an honorary Gentleman of the King's Bedchamber.
Styles / Movements Old Master, Realism
Incollect Reference Number 313184
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