Annibale Carracci

The Vision of St. Francis

c. 1597-1598
Saint Francis dedicated his life to the imitation of Christ. One night, when the saint was walking in a forest, the Madonna miraculously appeared and placed the Christ child in his arms causing him to faint with ecstasy. Francis is here comforted by an angel as he kneels before the infant Christ, expressing with great emotional and spiritual intensity, his profound mystical experience. Annibale, originally from Bologna, had settled in Rome when he made this; the painted architecture is an homage to the Palazzo Farnese, home to his most important patrons.

by 1672
Monsignor Lorenzo Salviati, Rome, Italy [1]

– 1727
Nicolas de Launay (1647–1727), Paris, France [2]

1727 – 1791
Louis, Duc d'Orléans (1703–1752), Paris, Palais Royal, France;

Louis-Philippe, Duc d'Orléans (1725–1785), his son, by inheritance;

Louis-Philippe-Joseph, Duc d'Orléans (1747–1793), his son, by inheritance [3]

1791 – 1792
Edouard, Vicomte Walkuers (or Walquers), Brussels, Belgium, purchased from the Duc d'Orléans [4]

1792 – 1798/12/26
François-Louis-Joseph, Comte Laborde de Méréville (d.1801), Paris, France, and London, UK, purchased from Edouard, Vicomte Walkuers [5]

1798/12/26 – 1803
Francis Egerton, 3rd Duke of Bridgewater (1736–1803), London and Worsley Hall, Lancashire, UK, purchased from the Comte Laborde de Méréville [6]

1803 –
George Granville Leveson-Gower, 2nd Marquess of Stafford and 1st Duke of Sutherland (1758–1833), his nephew, by inheritance [7]

Lord Francis Egerton, 1st Earl of Ellesmere (1800–1857), his son, by inheritance [8]

1903 –
Francis Charles Granville Egerton, 3rd Earl of Ellesmere (1847–1914), his son, by inheritance [9]

– 1946/10/18
John Sutherland Egerton, 5th Earl of Ellesmere (later 6th Duke of Sutherland) (1915–2000) Bridgewater House, London, by inheritance [10]

by 1955 – 1977
Sir John Wyndham Pope-Hennessy (1913–1994), London, UK, purchased from John Sutherland Egerton, 5th Earl of Ellesmere [11]

by 1977/03 – 1977/11/16
Colnaghi & Co., London, UK, purchased from Sir John Pope-Hennessy [12]

1977/11/16 –
National Gallery of Canada, purchased from Colnaghi & Co. [13]

[1] Bellori mentions the painting in his 1672 publication as belonging to the collection of Monsignor Lorenzo Salviati [Bellori, Giovanni Pietro. “Le vite de'pittori, scultori et architetti moderni.” Rome 1672, p. 84].

[2] See note [3].

[3] The painting is included in the 1727 catalogue of the collection of paintings owned by the Duc d'Orleans, Paris [Dubois de Saint-Gelais. “Descriptions des Tableaux du Palais-Royal.” Paris 1727, p. 39]. The catalogue notes that the painting came from the collection of the director of the French Royal Mint, M. de Launay.

[4] According to Buchanan, the French and Italian paintings of the Orleans collection were sold en bloc to the Belgian banker Walkuers in 1791. The following year, the latter sold the collection to his cousin François-Louis-Joseph, Comte Laborde de Méréville [Buchanan, William. “Memoirs of Painting with a Chronological History of the Importation of Pictures by the Great Masters into England since the French Revolution.” London 1824, vol. I, p. 189-190, see also: Sutton, Denys. "Aspects of British Collecting, Part III. XII: The Orleans Collection." Apollo, May 1984, p. 357-372 and Pomeroy, Jordana. "The Orleans Collection: Its impact on the British art world." Apollo, February 1997, p. 26–31.

[5] See note [4]. The Comte Laborde de Méréville lived in Paris and later moved to London. In December 1798 he sold the entire Orléans collection through London auctioneer Michael Bryan (1757–1821) to a consortium of collectors, consisting of Francis Egerton, 3rd Duke of Bridgewater, London and Worsley Hall, Lancashire, Frederick Howard, 5th Earl of Carlisle (1748–1825), Castle Howard, North Yorkshire, and George Granville Leveson-Gower, 1st Duke of Sutherland London, Trentham Hall, Stafford, and Dunrobin Castle, Highland, Scotland. Carracci's Vision of St. Francis was acquired by Francis Egerton, the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater on Dec. 26, 1798 [Getty provenance database, sale cat. Br. A5676, lot no. 0020].

[6] Francis Egerton, the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater was heirless and left his large art collection to his nephew, George Granville, the son of his favourite sister, Lady Louisa Egerton, second wife of Granville, 2nd Earl Gower, 1st Marquis of Stafford.

[7] See note [6]. George Granville Leveson-Gower was one of Britain's wealthiest men in in the early 19th century.

[8] See note [9].

[9] Francis Charles Granville Egerton, 3d Earl of Ellesmere, inherited the trust in 1903. [The trust's history is recounted in Cust, Lionel. “The Bridgewater Gallery.” London 1903, vol. V-VII. The painting is recorded in the following catalogues: W.Y. Ottley and P.W. Tomkins. “Engravings of the Most Noble the Marquis of Stafford's Collection of Pictures in London.” London 1818, Class II, p. 44 (engraving by C. Heath 1815); Westmacott, C.M. “British Galleries of Painting and Sculpture.” London 1824, p. 189-90; Young, J. “A Catalogue of the Collection of Pictures of the Most Noble the Marquess of Stafford at Cleveland House, London.” London 1825, p. 114, no. 153 (engraving by John Young); Jameson, A. “Galleries of Art.” (London 1844), p. 99-100, no. 17; Waagen, Gustav. “Treasures of Art in Great Britain.” London 1854, vol. 2, p. 34.

[10] The work was sold from the Bridgewater collection by the 5th Earl of Ellesmere at Christie's, London on Oct. 18, 1946 [“Ancient and Modern pictures. A portion of the Bridgewater Collection.” lot no. 66].

[11] In his memoirs renowned art historian John Pope-Hennessy notes that he purchased Carracci's Vision of St. Francis at the1946Bridgewater collection sale for £28 [Pope-Hennessy, John. “Learning to look.” New York: Doubleday, 1991, p.88].

[12] Pope-Hennessy sold the painting in 1977, the year he resigned as director of the British Museum and became consultative chairman for the department of European paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The decision to grant this important painting an export permit was not without critics. [“Why Sir John angered the art world.” Sunday Times article, March 14, 1977, NGC curatorial file]. A handwritten entry in the 1946 Bridgewater collection sales catalogue, is inscribed “Dent”¿conceivably Pope-Hennessey's agent.

[13] The London art dealer Colnaghi acquired the painting from Pope-Hennessy in 1977 [letter by NGC research curator Myron Laskin Jr. to Patrick Matthiessen, Colnaghi, London, March 15,

1977, Accession records, NGC curatorial file].

[14] The National Gallery of Canada acquired the work from Colnaghi on November 16, 1977 [Accession log, NGC curatorial file].

The Vision of St. Francis
c. 1597-1598
oil on copper
46.8 x 37.2 cm
Credit line
Purchased 1977
Accession number

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