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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Interior of the Sistine Chapel

Léon Bonnat (1833-1922)
Intérieur de la Chapelle Sixtine [Interior of the Sistine Chapel] (1870s)
Oil on canvas
H. 45.5; W. 59 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris, France



This almost deserted and nearly touristy vision of one of the highlights of the Vatican (the decoration of which is barely suggested) is swiftly brushed in a narrow range of colours.

There is only a single female figure sitting in the foreground near the left-hand edge of the painting, facing the viewer.

This woman, probably Mrs Kann with whom the painter travelled to Italy, is adjusting her
lorgnette to look more closely at the decoration or perhaps at the painter who was busy sketching this curious moment.