This work along with the following lot, an identically sized canvas of similar bucolic theme and technical execution, may have been originally commissioned as part of a cohesive decorative scheme for a private patron. Robert’s mastery of large scale landscape decorations, where fantasy was ably blended with topographical or classical architectural elements drawn from his experiences in Italy, had won him patronage of royalty and numbers of wealthy private clients. Among his more notable commissions of this type were the set of four pictures painted for the Comte d'Artois, later Charles X, in 1778 for Bagatelle near Paris, the four large canvases executed for the dining room of the Château de Méréville in 1788 (Art Institute, Chicago), and another four painted for Louis XVI for the Château at Fontainebleau in the previous year (Louvre, Paris). Robert's success was particularly notable in Russia, where he painted, for example, a series of large-scale works for Catherine the Great and also her son the Grand Duke Paul at his palace at Petrovsk. The theme of waterfalls and cascades was a favorite of the artist’s, and was often based from his experiences of the great falls at Tivoli in Italy; another even larger canvas in this vein, for example, painted in 1774 and later in the collection of Baron de Cassin, was with Wildenstein in New York in 1988.3
1. Inv. 5857. Canvas, 212 by 208 cm. see I.S. Nemilova,The Hermitage. Catalogue of Western European Painting. French Painting, Eighteenth Century,Moscow 1986, p. 283, cat. no. 206, reproduced.
2. Paris, Georges Petit, 8-10 May 1922, lot 64.
3. J. Stourton, Great Collectors of our time. Art collecting since 1945, London 2007, pp. 34-36.
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