Lot 388
  • 388

Hubert Robert

150,000 - 200,000 USD
365,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Hubert Robert
  • The 'Fountain of Liberty'; Artists sketching at Tivoli
  • The first signed at the base of the fountain: H. ROBERT / St-L. 
    The second signed bottom center: H. ROBERT. St-L.
  • a pair, both oil on canvas
  • each: 21 x 18 inches


Sigismond Bardac (1856-1919), Paris;
His estate sale, Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, 10 May 1920, lots 34 and 35;
There purchased by the Comte de Fels, Paris;
Anonymous sale, Paris, Galerie Charpentier, 31 March 1960, lots 28 and 29;
Anonymous sale, London, Sotheby's, 16 March 1966, lot 35;
With Wildenstein & Co., New York, 2000;
From whom purchased by the present collectors.


Paris, Galerie Jean Charpentier, Exposition Hubert Robert et Louis Moreau, June 1922, nos. 43-44;
London, Thomas Agnew & Sons, Summer Exhibition of Fine Pictures by Old Masters, June-July 1950, nos. 4 and 8, reproduced pp. 6 and 8;
New York, Wildenstein, Hubert Robert: The Pleasure of Ruins, 15 November-16 December 1988, p. 90, reproduced in color pp. 64-65;
New York, Wildenstein (cat. by J. Baillio), The Winds of Revolution, 14 November 1989-19 January 1990, no. 83, p. 9, reproduced, p. 85.


Apollo Magazine, LI, No. 301, March 1950, reproduced on the cover (Artists Sketching at Tivoli);
M.W. Brockwell, "The Summer Exhibition of Pictures by Old Masters at the Agnew Galleries", in Connoisseur, CXXVI, No. 517, August 1950, p. 66, reproduced, p. 68 (The Fountain of Liberty);
Colnaghi, 18th Century French Drawings, exhibition catalogue, New York 1983, under cat. no. 26;
Hubert Robert et la Révolution, Valence 1989, p. 112, under cat. no. 34;
I. Néto Daguerre and D. Coutagne, Granet, peintre de Rome, exhibition catalogue, Aix-en-Provence 1992, p. 66, reproduced fig. 58 (Artists Sketching at Tivoli);
P. Bordes and A. Chevalier, Catalogue des peintures, sculptures et dessins-Musée de la Révolution francaise, Vizille, Vizille 1996, p. 242, under cat. no. 68, reproduced, p. 244, fig. 68a;
E. Calbi, Paysages d'Italie: Les peintres du plein air (1780-1830), Paris 2001, cat. no. 4, p. 11, reproduced in color (Artists Sketching at Tivoli).

Catalogue Note

On October 29, 1793, Robert was arrested and jailed by the Revolutionary authorities for having failed to renew his citizen's card, though the true motivation for his imprisonment was surely his ties to the French aristocracy. He was held initially at the convent of Sainte-Pélagie and transferred on January 30-31, 1794 to the seminary of Saint-Lazare, both of which had been converted from former leper houses for use as prisons. Today the site of the prison is occupied by the Church of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul. Robert was released in August of 1794 after the fall of Robespierre.

While imprisoned, he consoled himself by painting and drawing. Materials on which to paint were scarce and in many cases he used the earthenware prison plates on which his food was served as his "canvases." Many of the works executed during this time are signed in full or with the artist's initials followed by, as here, the letters "S.L." for Saint-Lazare. Many of the pictures Robert executed in prison are landscapes, painted from memory or purely imaginative compositions, a testament to the artist's creative genius. 

The Fountain of Liberty bears close similarities to the plaster statue by F.F. Lemot which was placed in the center of the Place de la Révolution in August 1793 for the Festival of Unity. That sculpture sat on the pedestal of Bouchardon's equestrian statue of Louis XV, which had been destroyed in 1792 as a physical reminder of the triumph of Democracy over Monarchy. The downfall of the French monarchy is also symbolized in this painting by the fallen and broken stele at right. The inclusion of such overt democratic symbolism by Robert in this work was almost certainly an effort on the part of the artist to obtain good will from his revolutionary captors. 

A variant copy of the Fountain of Liberty was sold Paris, Hôtel George V, 9 April 1991, lot 63. A red chalk study for the painting is located in the Museé de la Révolution Française, Vizille, and a number of watercolor renderings of the subject are also extant. 

To be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the paintings of Hubert Robert being prepared with the assistance of the Wildenstein Institute.