Simon Denis

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Simon Denis, self-portrait
(circa 1785)
Study of Clouds with a Sunset near Rome, oil on paper, now at the J. Paul Getty Museum
Landscape near Rome during a Storm (1786–1806) oil on paper, now at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Simon-Joseph-Alexandre-Clément Denis (14 April 1755, in Antwerp – 1 January 1813, in Naples) was a Belgian painter active primarily in Italy.


Denis first studied in his native city of Antwerp, with the landscape and animal painter H.-J. Antonissen. The work of Balthasar Paul Ommeganck also influenced his style.

He moved to Paris in the 1780s, and soon gained the patronage of genre painter and art dealer Jean-Baptiste-Pierre Lebrun [fr], whose support allowed him to move to Rome in 1786. His paintings there attracted favorable attention, and in 1787 he married a local woman. He remained close to the Flemish community in Rome, and in 1789 was elected to head the Foundation St.-Julien-des-Flamands. He also developed ties within the French artistic community; Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun stayed with him for some days in 1789 and that same year he and she traveled with François-Guillaume Ménageot to visit Tivoli. François Marius Granet sought his advice when he arrived in Rome in 1802.

In 1803, he was elected to the Accademia di San Luca; in 1806 he settled for good in Naples, becoming court painter to Joseph Bonaparte. Denis died in 1813.


  • Valentina Branchini. "Simon Denis (1755-1813) in Italia: dipinti e disegni di paesaggio". Ph.D. diss., Università di Bologna, 2002–3.
  • Philip Conisbee, Sarah Faunce, and Jeremy Strick. In the Light of Italy: Corot and Early Open-Air Painting. New Haven; Yale University Press, 1996.

External link[edit]

Media related to Simon Joseph Alexandre Clément Denis at Wikimedia Commons