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Citizen SpectatorArt, Illusion, and Visual Perception in Early National America$
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Wendy Bellion

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780807833889

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807838907_Bellion

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Phantasmagoric Washington

Phantasmagoric Washington

(p.283) 6 Phantasmagoric Washington
Citizen Spectator

Wendy Bellion

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter describes the picture James Earle displayed in his Philadelphia gallery. Painted by the French artist Francois-Marius Granet and entitled The Choir of the Capuchin Church in Rome, the picture had been shown to acclaim at the Paris Salon one year earlier. The canvas was huge—more than six feet tall by five feet wide—and it immersed Earle's audience in a foreign place and subject: the private chapel of Santa Maria della Concezione, a friary on the Piazza Barberini, where monks gathered for blessing in advance of High Mass. The setting was a tour de force of spatial and atmospheric illusionism, designed to compel wonder and sensory absorption. Shadows and lines structured a deep perspectival space, drawing the eye toward the bright window at the back of the choir.

Keywords:   James Earle, Philadelphia gallery, Francois-Marius Granet, Paris Salon, Piazza Barberini

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