To the great dismay of his French rivals, it was the Venetian painter Gianantonio Pellegrini, admired throughout Europe for his virtuosity and the lightness of colours, who in 1720 received the commission to paint the ceiling of the boardroom in the new Banque Royale.

Located in the hotel de Nevers in Paris, and founded by the financier John Law in 1716, the bank aroused a large amount of enthusiasm at the time, based on hypothetical revenues from the American colonies. The ceiling work lauds its merits, with Trade and Good Government, or the benefits of the Banque Royale for the fate of France.

The resounding collapse of the bank in 1720 and the desire to quickly erase the memory led to the destruction of the decoration in 1722.

This sketch shows a large section of the composition. On the left the Seine embraces the Mississippi in front of Friendship, which unites them. In the centre are winged allegories of Felicity and Tranquillity, and below there is “a cart harnessed to two horses, onto which men are loading goods unloaded from ships from Louisiana”. It is an important testimony to a major Parisian decorative work which is now lost.

M. A. P.

City of Paris municipal collection's website

City of Paris municipal collection's website

The online catalogue of the Petit Palais collections includes around 35,000 notes and is added to regularly. Some notes have minimal information; others are more detailed. They are illustrated or they will be shortly.

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