In 1874, after much wavering, the decision was taken to finish the decoration of the walls of the Pantheon, a church that had been turned into a secular mausoleum for the nation's Great Men.
Among the artists called in were Puvis de Chavannes, Léon Bonnat, Paul Baudry, Jean-Paul Laurens, Alexandre Cabanel, Ernest Meissonier – and Jules-Elie Delaunay, commissioned for the series on Attila and St Genevieve, to whom the original church had been dedicated.
Time is suspended
In May 1874 the Marquis de Chennevières, director of the Académie des Beaux-Arts, explained the subject in a letter to the Minister of Education: « The first intercolumniation [space between columns] on the left will show Attila marching on Paris after burning Trier, Metz, etc. The next three intercolumniations will show St Genevieve pacifying a populace terrified by the news of Attila's approach and prophesying that the city would not be invaded by the 'Scourge of God'. ».
Delaunay depicts the period preceding the encounter between Attila and Genevieve: time is suspended.
- Sketch of St Genevieve
- Graphite on tracing paper
- 34,8 x 19,5 cm
- Delaunay Estate Bequest, 1892