The National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, has announced the acquisition of two new paintings on Roman subjects, including the first French neoclassical history painting to enter their collections. Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson (1767-1824) painted Coriolanus Taking Leave of His Family (below) in 1786 as a submission for the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture’s most prestigious prize, the Prix de Rome. The scene shows the 5th-century BC Roman general Gaius Marcius Coriolanus departing from his family as he is banished from Rome. Girodet trained under neoclassical painter Jacques-Louis David, whose influence can be seen in the work, which contrasts the general’s stoicism with the grief of his family, civic duty with personal ties.
The painting was once owned by the chemist Antoine Lavoisier, but was seized after his execution during the French Revolution. It is in excellent condition, and is now being treated by conservators at the National Gallery of Art.
Also joining the gallery’s collections is an 1819 oil-on-paper painting by Achille Etna Michallon (1796-1822) of The Forum at Pompeii (above). Michallon was, along with his teacher Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes, one of the leading figures in landscape oil sketching, and won the Prix de Rome for his historical landscape painting. In 1818, the young painter headed to Italy, where he stayed for three years. The Forum at Pompeii – rapidly sketched en plein air – is one of Michallon’s earliest extant works in oil from Pompeii, and may be a study for a more ambitious piece.
IMAGES: National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, New Century Fund, Gift of Edwin L Cox – Ed Cox Foundation, and Chester Dale Fund; Gift of the Matthiesen Gallery and John Lishawa Ltd in memory of curators E A Carmean Jr and Philip Conisbee.