Description & Technical information

Hubert Robert was one of the pre-eminent French landscape painters of the 18th century. He trained for over a decade in Rome before establishing himself at the center of the Parisian art world upon his return to the city in 1765. He exhibited regularly at the Salons until 1797 and completed countless commissions for the nobility, aristocracy and foreign dignitaries throughout
his career. Robert was renowned for his imaginary landscapes featuring ancient ruins and beautiful gardens, often incorporating both known and fantastical architectural elements in his compositions.

Hubert Robert continued to return to his drawings of Italian ruins for inspiration once he returned to France, eventually earning the sobriquet “Robert des Ruines.” A depiction of an ancient circular temple similar to that in the first of the present pair of paintings, for example, also appears in a painting by Robert of 1784, and a structure similar to the broken columns
beneath a cornice on the right of the second painting is featured in a work by the artist which sold at Sotheby’s London in 2012. The present pair was painted in 1780, the year Robert moved with his family into the Louvre, where he was granted a studio. Though he was a prolific painter throughout his life, there are few known paintings by Hubert Robert from this year.

The pair of paintings will be included in the catalogue raisonné of the paintings of Hubert Robert, to be published by the Wildenstein Institute.


Date:  1780
Period:  1750-1850, 18thcentury
Origin:  France
Medium: Oil on canvas
Signature: Signed and dated lower center: H. Robert/P.ANNO/1780.

Dimensions: 63 x 79 cm (24³/₄ x 31¹/₈ inches)
Provenance: Comte d’Imécurt (1781-1872), Paris;
His estate sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 5 May 1877, lots 2 and 3;
Grouet collection, Paris;
With Matthiesen, London by 1938;
Private Collection, Rome by 1959;
With Edward Speelman, London.

Exhibitions: Rome, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Il Settecento a Roma, 19 March –
31 May 1959, nos. 550 and 551;
Lausanne, Fondation L’Hermitage, Le Goût de Diderot: Greuze, Chardin, Falconet, David…, 7 February – 1 June 2014.

Categories: Paintings, Drawings & Prints