Carthusian Monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli, Rome
François Sablet (1745-1819)

Carthusian Monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli, Rome, 1808

Oil on canvas, H. 0.57 m; W. 0.46 m

Signed and dated lower left: F Sablet. 1808.

Provenance: Acquired by Mathurin Crucy from François Sablet.
Private collection, France.

The paintings of the brothers François and Jacques Sablet had been mixed up for a long time. Anne van de Sandt’s important research clearly distinguished the work of François, the “Sablet from Paris ” and the one of Jacques, the “Roman Sablet” (name sometimes falsely attributed to François).

Like his younger brother, François Sablet was trained in Paris by Vien and specialized in portrait painting. But unlike Jacques he did not accompany Vien to Rome when he became director of the French Academy in 1775. François travelled to Italy only in 1791. “He left then the portrait and turned to landscape in oil, in which he succeeds admirably; he painted in the countryside, on the spot, and made a charming series of the neighborhood of Genzano …, adorned with figures which he makes with the biggest ease.” (see Journal littéraire de Lausanne, 1796, p. 394, cited by Anne van de Sandt, Les frères Sablet (…), 1985, p. 116.) Two years later, the consequences of the revolutionary events forced both brothers to leave Italy.

On his return to Paris, François Sablet was admitted at the Société populaire et républicaine des Arts and participated in the competition of the year III and in the Salon of 1795. In 1799, he took up contact with Francesco Piranesi with whom he had already collaborated in Rome, and who then made him work for the Chalcographie Piranèse established in Paris, where engravings were painted in oil and in gouache. At the latest in 1805, François Sablet had moved to Nantes where he dedicated himself with big success to portrait painting and where he received the commission to decorate the stock exchange building of Nantes. In the same years, François Sablet also painted many landscapes, among which some souvenirs of Italy such as our picture.

The present painting is based on a composition executed by François Sablet in Rome, engraved by Francesco Piranesi in 1793. This Carthusian monastery was built in the XVIth century on the rests of the Diocletian Baths, the biggest thermal baths of Rome. Built after Michelangelo’s drawings in one of the former peristyles of the baths, this cloister is decorated with hundred columns that support a gallery all around it. It was a place frequented by the French artists.