Petit’s love of old churches, and painting them, in part led to his wider artistic range and innovation becoming overlooked. Old churches are a traditional subject for an artist, and since only examples of these pictures by Petit were known for most of the 20th Century, the rest of his work being lost, led to him being categorized as an artist of churches in the tradition of other watercolourists.
While that is far from the whole story, yet it is the case that, by range of location, and from cathedral to small chapel, Petit is one of the greatest historical artists of churches right across Europe. That is still not fashionable, it must be acknowledged, hence our primary emphasis on the other themes. But it is a serious and spiritual body of work, accessible to all who are minded to look, as the quotes on the main page showed.
The following were all exhibited we think, or used in his publications where noted. In each, Petit aims to capture the character of the building and show how its spiritual beauty impacts the observer. At the same they are accurate, if rough, so that a viewer or student of architecture can be helped to undertand how the architecture has contributed to the effect.
1. Greek Church, Munich, 1854.
2. Valencia Cathedral, 1858.
3. Chapel near Maintenon, 1851. A similar view was used as an illustration in Architectural Studies in France (1854), as an aexampple of beautiful very simple church.
4. Lichfield Cathedral, 1857. The first of the series of pictures on Lichfield published as prints. This has been described by the editor of the British Art Journal as ‘An extraordinary picture. It reminds you of Turner but in fact nothing like Turner, pure Petit.’
5. Interior Abbey Cluny, Paris, 1851. Illustrated in Architectural Studies in France (1854)
6. Absolom’s tomb, near Jerusalem, 1865. Illustrated in one of the Anastatic Society’s Volumes
7. St Cross, Hampshire, 1839-40. Illustrated in Remarks on Church Architecture, 1841
8. St Jacques, Ghent, 1830s