This large and fresh drawing is characteristic of Robert's style and his use of rich red chalk to create an animated scene. The lines inscribed on the stone are attributed to Virgil and can be translated as: 'And so, birds, you don't make nests for yourselves.' A companion drawing, The Flight of Galatea, is similarly inscribed on a stone with lines from Virgil's Eclogues, Book III, verses 64-65.1
A pair of paintings of these subjects, but with somewhat different compositions, is in the Hermitage, St. Petersburg (see fig. 1).2 The paintings and the drawings can both be dated on stylistic grounds to the 1780s.
Robert, who was inspired by classical architecture and sculpture in his drawings and paintings, here makes use of Virgil's classical pastoral poetry to create very 18th-century pastoral compositions.
1. J. de Cayeux, Les Hubert Robert de la Collection Veyrene au Musée de Valence, Valence 1985, p. 298, no. 85
2. I.S. Nemilova, French Painting, Eighteenth Century, The Hermitage, Moscow and Florence 1986, p. 276, no. 201; p. 278, no. 202
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