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[AC] Mead Art Museum at Amherst College; [HC] Hampshire College Art Gallery;
[HD] Historic Deerfield; [MH] Mount Holyoke College Art Museum; [MH SK] The Joseph Allen Skinner Museum at Mount Holyoke College; [SC] Smith College Museum of Art; [UM] University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMASS Amherst


Maker(s):Piranesi, Francesco; Desprez, Louis Jean, after
Culture:Italian (1758-1810); French (1743-1804)
Title:The Pauline Chapel, Illuminated, from the Vatican, during the Celebration of the Mass (La chapelle Pauline illuminée, dans le Vatican, pendant la celebration de la messe)
Date Made:ca. 1787–88
Materials:etching with watercolor and gouache
Measurements:Sheet: 32 3/8 in x 23 3/8 in; 82.2 cm x 59.4 cm; Image: 27 5/8 in x 18 3/4 in; 70.2 cm x 47.6 cm
Accession Number:  AC 2009.209
Credit Line:Museum Purchase with funds donated by Stephen T. Kunian (Class of 1960)

Pope Pius VI is seen praying before an elaborate apparto at the start of the Forty Hours Devotion, or Quarantore, in the Capella Paolina, his private chapel. Apparati were elaborate, temporary structures used to display the consecrated Host in a monstrance during a Quarantore, when the Host was exposed for 40 hours beginning on the first Sunday of Advent.

Label Text:
French stage designer, painter, and architect Desprez collaborated with the Italian printmaker Francesco Piranesi (son of the more famous Giambattista Piranesi) to create a series of “colored drawings” depicting views in Naples, Rome, and Pompeii for sale at Piranesi’s Roman shop. Desprez drew the designs; Piranesi reproduced them as etchings; and Desprez hand-colored the resulting prints with watercolor and gouache (an opaque form of watercolor, seen here in the touches of white).

Amherst’s print may have been completed after Desprez had left Rome to work for the Swedish king, Gustav III. It shows Pope Pius VI praying in his private chapel, the Capella Paolina, at the start of the Forty Hours Devotion, or Quarantore, which begins on the first Sunday in Advent. In the center of the composition stands an elaborate “apparto”—a temporary structure used to display the consecrated Host in a monstrance during a Quarantore. Desprez gives the artificially illuminated scene an otherworldly mood, in which the sculpted angels bearing lamps appear more lifelike than the living figures.

1 Related Objects

AC PR.1936.30
Parr, Remi (or Remigius); Zocchi, Giuseppi (after)
A View of the Cathedral Church of Florence and the Grand Procession of the Host
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