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Giovanni Paolo Panini (1695 - 1764)

View of the Interior of the Pauline Chapel in the Vatican Palace at Rome, with the Sacrament exposed during the Quarante Hora

Watercolour on paper

Inscription: The Exposing of the Holy Sacrament called the Quarante in the Paolina Chapel in the Vatican Palace in Rome. The persons in view(?) are Prelate Chamberlains of honour to the Pope & are relieved every two hours. Iohan: Pauls. Pannini Placentinut delin: Roma [in brown ink, all in same hand, along lower edge]

Museum number: P8

Curatorial note

This scene shows the scene in the Pauline Chapel (Cappella Paulina) in the Vatican during the Forty Hours' Devotion, correctly called Quarant' Ore in Italian or written in one word Quarantore, which is a Roman Catholic exercise of devotion in which continuous prayer is offered for forty hours, night and day, before the Blessed Sacrament in solemn exposition. The ceremony begins with a Solemn Mass or "Mass of Exposition" and ends with a "Mass of Deposition". It commonly occurs in a succession of churches, with one church finishing prayers at the same time as the next begins them. Its origins are obscure but it may be connected with the tradition that Christ's body was in the tomb for 40 hours.

The Cappella Paulina, designed by Antonio Sangallo the younger and built between 1538 and 1540, is in the Vatican Palace, separated from the Sistine Chapel by the Sala Regia. Amongst its decorations are two frescoes by Michelangelo, the Conversion of Saint Paul and the Crucifixion of Saint Peter, which face one another on the side walls of the Chapel.

At the time of Soane's death this framed watercolour was hanging on the Dance Cabinet which Soane had acquired the year before, in 1836, in the ground floor Library-Dining Room.

Provenance help-art-provenance

Unknown. It seems to have been in the collection by 1832 when Soane's Description lists 'PANINI Architectural Composition' under 'Names of Foreign Artists whose works are in this Collection'. However, it is not mentioned as hanging in any of the rooms described.


J. Soane, Description, 1832, p.xii
Helen Dorey, 'The Historic Framing and presentation of watercolours, drawings and prints at Sir John's Museum', in ed. Nancy Bell, Historic Framing and Presentation of Watercolours and Prints, Proceedings of the Conference of the Institute of Paper Conservation June 1996, pp. 20-31

If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: worksofart@soane.org.uk