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Portrait of Pope Pius VII and Cardinal Caprara

Jacques-Louis David, French, 1748 - 1825

Made in France, Europe

1808 or later

Oil on panel

54 3/8 x 37 3/4 inches (138.1 x 96 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

* Gallery 399, European Art 1500-1850, third floor

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Henry P. McIlhenny, 1971

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In late 1804 Napoleon forced Pope Pius VII to travel to Paris in order to preside over his coronation. This double portrait shows the Pope, his hand raised in blessing, with the French papal legate Cardinal Caprara standing at his side. David depicted these two figures in the same poses in his monumental Coronation of Napoleon and Josephine of 1804-7 (versions in the Louvre Museum and in the palace at Versailles). The artist thought it worthwhile to record how the Pope looked in this stressful moment, so he excerpted the figures from the larger canvas and repeated them on this panel.


Purchased from the artist by Firmin Didot; Jacques Lafitte; sale, Lafitte collection, Me. Lacoste and Charles Paillet, Paris, December 15, 1834; Comte de Pourtalès Gorgier; sale, Pourtalès Gorgier collection, Laneuville fils, Paris, March 27-April 4, 1865, no. 241; purchased by the Earl of Dudley; sale, Dudley collection, Christie's, London, June 25, 1892, no. 37 [1]. Marquise de Ganay (the former Emily R. Ridgway) (d. 1921), Paris, by 1921; her estate sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, May 8-10, 1922, no. 39, illus.; purchased by Lasquin (bought in?) [2]; Charles Anne Jean Ridgway Marquis de Ganay (1861-1948), Paris, by 1932 [3]; sold to Martin Birnbaum, New York, December 1936; sold to Henry P. McIlhenny, Philadelphia, December 1936 [4]; gift to PMA, 1971. 1. For the preceding provenance see J. L. Jules David, Le peintre Louis David, 1748-1825: souvenirs et documents inédits (Paris, 1880); and "The Henry P. McIlhenny Collection," (exh. cat., High Museum of Art, Atlanta, 1984), no. 3. 2. Probably bought in, as the buyer is listed as "M. Lasquin", who was one of the experts for the sale, and the painting subsequently passed to the Marquise's son, the Marquis de Ganay. 3. Exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts, "Exhibition of French Art," 1932, no. 337, by the Marquis de Ganay. 4. Negotiations with Birnbaum for the purchase began in April 1936 (see copies in curatorial file). Although Birnbaum initially conducted negotiations with the Marquise de Ganay, he discovered that the actual owner was the Marquis, who was reluctant to sell (see letter to Henry McIlhenny, November 27, 1936, in curatorial file). Birnbaum was an art dealer and a partner at Scott & Fowles.

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