Friars Around a Hearth (formerly Interior with Monks)
c. 1725
Alessandro Magnasco (Italian, 1667-1749)
On View

In a dimly lit room, friars dressed in gray and brown habits, or robes, seek warmth around a smoky fire. They belong to a Christian religious order, likely the Capuchins, which required its followers to take a vow of poverty. The artist’s dynamic brushstrokes create a sense of movement, as if we can see the friars arranging themselves on benches and stretching their limbs. Throughout, Alessandro Magnasco inserts moments of humanity and even humor. In the foreground a friar uses his rope belt as a cat toy, and near the upper right corner of the hearth, an elderly man rests an arm on his companion’s knee. Typical of Magnasco’s ambivalent depictions of religious groups, this painting neither mocks nor glorifies austere monastic life, but rather invites the viewer to explore multiple interpretations.


  • Artist Name: Alessandro Magnasco (Italian, 1667-1749)
  • Title: Friars Around a Hearth (formerly Interior with Monks)
  • Date: c. 1725
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 36-1/2 x 52-1/4 in. (93 x 132.7 cm)
  • Credit Line: The Norton Simon Foundation
  • Accession Number: F.1973.34.1.P
  • Copyright: © The Norton Simon Foundation

Object Information

[Stephan Bourgeois, Paris and New York, sold ca. 1911 to];
Sir William van Horne (1843–1915), Montreal, Canada, by descent to his heirs;
Margaret van Horne (grand-daughter-in law to Sir William), sold 1967 to;
[Mortimer Brandt, New York];
[Edward Speelman, London/A.G., Zug, Switzerland, offered 25 February 1972 and subsequently sold 6 November 1973 to];
The Norton Simon Foundation.

Alessandro Magnasco 1667 - 1749

  • Palazzo Reale, 1996-03-21 to 1996-07-07

All Consuming: Art and the Essence of Food

  • Norton Simon Museum, 2023-04-14 to 2023-08-14
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  • Geiger, Benno, Belvedere, pl. 17
  • McCorquodale, Charles, The Connoisseur, p. 204-215
  • Muti, Laura; and Daniele de Sarno Prignano, Alessandro Magnasco, no. 247, figs. 147, 310, 311 pp. 242, 247
  • Guelfi, Fausta Franchini, Alessandro Magnasco, p. 103
  • Durst, Hans, Alessandro Magnasco, fig. 5 p. 69
  • Magnoni, V., Alessandro Magnasco,
  • Geiger, Benno, Magnasco, pls. 430-432 p. 120
  • Soprani, R.; and C. G. Ratti, Vitte de'pittori, scultori e architetti genovesi, 1769,
  • Ferri, Armando, Sei e settecento italiano: Alessandro Magnasco, 1922, pl. XXIX p. 16
  • Delogu, Giuseppe, Pittori minori Liguri Lombardi Piemonte si del seicento e del settecento, 1931, pl. 191
  • Geiger, Benno, I disegni del Magnasco, 1945,
  • Morassi, A., Mostra del Magnasco, 1949,
  • Pospisil, Maria, Magnasco, 1949, no. 116 pp. xxxvi, lx
  • Mostra dei pittori genovesi a Genova nel '600 e nel '700, 1969, under no. 142
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, 1989, p. 98
  • Mandel, O., The Art of Alessandro Magnasco: An Essay in the Recovery of Meaning, 1994, pl. I
  • Geiger, Benno, Alessandro Magnasco, 1994, no. 205, pl. 37, pl. XXXVII
  • Zuffi, Stefano, Alessandro Magnasco 1667-1749: Guida alla Mostra, 1996, pp. 26-27
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, 2010, cat. 995 p. 360
  • Bober, Jonathan, et al., A Superb Baroque: Art in Genoa, 1600-1750, 2020, fig. 14 p. 87 ; p. 86 (ill.)
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