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Work Bank of the Seine with Barge, Fog
Department of Prints and Drawings: 19th century
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Quai de la Seine avec chaland, effet de brume
Prints and Drawings
Granet's attraction to Romanticism earned him a considerable reputation as a genre painter. After spending many years in Italy, he was appointed curator of the Louvre and Versailles museums. Dating from late in his career, this watercolor is typical of a period when he enjoyed creating landscapes from life, in the grounds of Versailles or on the banks of the Seine. Simplifying the shapes, he concentrates on variations in the light.
A painter of light
Born in Aix-en-Provence, where he was to end his days, Granet was very much a southern French artist: whether working in the South of France, Paris, or Rome, his primary concern was light. After studying with Constantin in Aix-en-Provence, then David in Paris, he became a genre painter specializing in colorful religious subjects. He moved to Rome with his friend the Count de Forbin, living there for some twenty years and regularly sending works to the Salon: ecclesiastics or historical figures in indoor and outdoor architectural settings. Unfailingly, Granet shows light spreading into shade and simplifying volumes, creating a distinctive atmosphere that gives his works real unity.
Granet and watercolor
After Granet returned to Paris, Forbin appointed him curator of the Musées Royaux at the Louvre, then of the Musée Historique at Versailles. While pursuing his official career, he also worked on landscapes. Following the example of English painters of the late eighteenth century, he innovated in France in 1804 by devoting himself seriously to watercolor, a medium that allowed him to work quickly and spontaneously, taking his tones and colors from the life. Using a very wet brush, he gives his limpid, luminous landscapes a distinctive tinge that eloquently conveys an outdoor atmosphere.
Granet was certainly a precursor of Romanticism, infusing his compositions with the emotions of his meditative, introspective figures. His direct rendering of nature, the accuracy of his eye, and his grasp of light were also innovative. In this respect, his views of Rome and his landscapes make him a forerunner of Corot. Rejecting the merely picturesque, the watercolors of his late years convey an increasingly poetic "impression." Bank of the Seine with Barge, Fog is an example of the kind of subject - the Swiss Lake at Versailles was another - that he worked on ceaselessly, in all weathers and at all times of the day, creating vibrant spaces in which shapes were simplified and detail given little attention. The spectators and the barge suggest city life and the major role of river traffic at the time without lapsing into the trivial. Now considered a minor master, Granet the artist emerges in the context of his period as a modern, solitary figure. He left two hundred drawings to the Louvre and the rest of his oeuvre to the museum in Aix-en-Provence that now bears his name and is home to two watercolors similar to this one.
BibliographyCoutagne Denis, Granet. Paysages de l'Ile-de-France : aquarelles et dessins, collections du musée Granet, Aix-en-Provence, 1984.
Michel Régis and Sérullaz Arlette (eds.), L'Aquarelle en France au XIXe siècle, dessins du Musée du Louvre: LXXIXe exposition du Cabinet des dessins, cat. exp. Paris, musée du Louvre, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1983, no. 73.
Thuillier Jacques, "Marius Granet, précurseur du Romantisme", preface to Granet, peintre de Rome, by Isabelle Néto-Daguerre and Denis Coutagne, Aix-en-Provence, 1992.
François-Marius Granet (Aix-en-Provence, 1775-Aix-en-Provence, 1849)
Bank of the Seine with Barge, Fog
Watercolor over pencil
H. 18.1 cm; W. 29.3 cm.
Granet Bequest, 1849
Due to their fragility, works on paper are not on permanent display in the museum.
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