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68

PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE COLLECTION

Hubert Robert
GROTTA DI POSILLIPO
Estimate
60,00080,000
LOT SOLD. 75,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
68

PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE COLLECTION

Hubert Robert
GROTTA DI POSILLIPO
Estimate
60,00080,000
LOT SOLD. 75,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Master Paintings Evening Sale

|
New York

Hubert Robert
PARIS 1733 - 1808
GROTTA DI POSILLIPO
monogrammed or inscribed on the verso: R
oil on earthenware plate
diameter 6 1/8  in.; 15.5 cm.
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Provenance

Jean Nicolay, France, by 1958;
Sold at auction at Stukker, Berne 1990s;
Where acquired by the parents of the current owners;
Thence by descent to the current private collection, Germany.

Exhibited

Kunsthalle Hamburg, EUROPA 1789, 17 September - 19 November 1989, no. 197.

Literature

J. Nicolay, “Les Assiettes Prison D’Hubert Robert”, Conaissance des Arts, April 1958, pp. 36 – 41, no. 2, repr. on page 36.

Catalogue Note

On October 29, 1793, at the beginning of the Terror, Hubert Robert was arrested and jailed by the Revolutionary authorities for having failed to renew his citizen's card.  He was held initially at the convent of Sainte-Pélagie and transferred, on the night of January 30-31, 1794, to the seminary of Saint-Lazare, the site of a former leper's house.  He was not released until after the fall of Robespierre in July of that year.  While imprisoned, he consoled himself by painting and drawing (fig. 1).  Materials on which to paint were scarce and he began to use the earthenware prison plates on which his food was served as his "canvases."  While some of these plates depict scenes of life within the prison, the majority are landscapes.  

The present painting depicts a group of figures in the Grotta di Posillipo in Naples; its dark and dramatic lighting recalls the moody prison scenes of Magnasco and Goya, as well as the famous Carceri etchings by Piranesi.  Robert spent a little over a decade in Italy, and during that time completed a drawing expedition to the southern city in 1760 with the Abbé de Saint-Non, whom he met in Rome.  Robert, a prolific artist, would return to his sketches of Italy throughout his career for inspiration in his paintings, though it is likely that the present work (as it was painted while he was imprisoned) came from the artist's memory. 

Master Paintings Evening Sale

|
New York