Almost totally forgotten today, Desmoulins was above all a history painter. Readily Troubadour, from 1819 on he exhibited paintings of this movement at the Salon. Two examples are: « Francis I at Laura’s Tomb » and « The Count of Comminges at the Abbey of La Trappe, digging his grave ». At the Salon of 1822, he was awarded a prize for an « Interior View of the goldsmith Odiot’s Workshop » painted in a realistic manner that contrasts with his usual style.

Our painting is also a rare work for the theme it depicts and proves that he was also capable of adapting to the taste of the time for Italian subjects. This work, with its subtle handling, is a traditional scene in which figures dressed in the Italian manner are seen praying, under the cover of night, near an isolated oratory in the mountains.

François Barthelemy Auguste DESMOULINS (Paris, 1788 – Paris, 1856)
« Prayer to the Madonna » – Oil on canvas, original stretcher – 37.5 cm x 45.5 cm – Signed on the lower right and on the stretcher – On the reverse, various inscriptions including « La prière du soir[the evening prayer] » – fragment of a label, hard to decipher, giving the painter’s biography – On the back of the canvas, dealer’s stamp stenciled «Alphonse GIROUX in PARIS» with a number «239».

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