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Work Athens, view of the Acropolis from the Philopappos Monument

Department of Prints and Drawings: 19th century

Athènes, vue de l'Acropole depuis le monument de Philopappos

Prints and Drawings
19th century

Author(s):
Goarin Véronique

Arriving in Paris from Marseilles in 1835, Dominique Papety frequented the studio of Léon Cogniet and in 1836 won the Grand Prix de Rome. Between 1837 and 1842, he came under the influence of Ingres, then director of the Villa Medici, who held his art in high regard. In Rome, he met François Sabatier, a young aesthete and great lover of antiquity whom he accompanied on his travels to Greece in 1846, returning with hundreds of drawings, of which this view of Athens is one of the best examples.

A "documentary" on Greece

In Rome, François Sabatier introduced Papety to the teachings of Charles Fourier, which gave the young painter the idealist subject for his first painting shown at the Salon of 1843, A Dream of Happiness, which met with great success (Compiègne, Musée Vivenel). The two men established a strong friendship and from April to August 1846 they traveled together to Greece to explore ancient sites and return to the source of Western civilization. They arrived in Corfu, then visited the Ionian Islands, the Peloponnese, Delphi, Athens, and the monasteries of Mount Athos. Papety brought back a comprehensive and detailed pictorial record of the journey, including landscapes, archaeological plans, and copies. After returning to France, he published an account of their travels in the Revue des Deux Mondes in 1847, testimony to painters' growing interest in Hellenism in the year of the foundation of the École française d'Athènes. In 1890, Sabatier bequeathed to the Louvre five albums and 130 loose sheets representing the greater part of the drawings Papety had produced in Greece.

A view of Athens in 1846

Papety's work demonstrates his interest in antiquity, which he did not, however, isolate from its contemporary context. In addition to meticulous archaeological plans, he produced numerous landscapes and studies of the customs, costumes, and crafts of Greece, as well as of the traces of Turkish occupation. These studies are usually annotated, with information about colors and orientation, topographical details, titles, and precise dates - the work of an archaeologist, ethnologist, and journalist. This view of Athens thus offers a precise depiction of the city walls and the monuments of antiquity, but also of the 13th-century Frankish tower that was destroyed in 1875. It also shows the surrounding hills, including Likavittós in the background, and the modern city lying on the plain; the large white building on the right is the palace of King Otto. It was the newly crowned king of Greece who provided Papety with the occasion for a second visit to Athens in August 1847. On the suggestion of the Duc de Montpensier, he was invited to portray the royal family and the court, with a view to producing a painting to commemorate a recent political event, the duke's visiting the monuments of Athens on September 12, 1845. After this second journey, from which he brought back some thirty drawings, Papety fell ill, and died two years later in Marseilles at the age of 34.

Bibliography

R. Michel, cat. exp. L'aquarelle en France au XIXe siècle, Paris, musée du Louvre, Cabinet des Dessins, 1983, p. 98, sous n 123.
A. Sérullaz, cat. exp. Souvenirs de voyages, autographes et dessins français du XIX siècle, Paris, musée du Louvre, Cabinet des Dessins, 1992, n 37.
F.-X. Amprimoz, dans Inventaire général des dessins du musée du Louvre et du musée d'Orsay, École française, XIII, de Pagnest à Puvis de Chavannes, sous la direction de Catherine Legrand, Paris, 1993, pp. 18-19 et n 189.

Technical description

  • Dominique Papety (Marseille, 1815-Marseille, 1849)

    Athens, view of the Acropolis from the Philopappos Monument

    1846

  • Pencil and watercolor with white gouache highlights on gray-green paper

    H: 25.3 cm; W: 47.5 cm

  • François Sabatier bequest, 1890

    401773

  • Prints and Drawings

    Due to their fragility, works on paper are not on permanent display in the museum.

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Additional information about the work

Bottom left in pencil: Acropole d'Athènes 29 juin 1846