Spanish noble collection; By whom anonymously sold ("The Property of a European Noblewoman"), London, Christie's, 10 December 2003, lot 68; There acquired.
This impeccably preserved and late work by the master landscapist Hubert Robert beautifully captures his lifelong enchantment with both Ancient Egypt and the depiction of architectural ruins.
Robert was the pre-eminent French landscape painters of the late 18th century, training 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. During these early years, Robert developed what would be a life-long fascination with architecture and his many depictions of ruins earned him the sobriquet “Robert des Ruines.” By the time the artist returned to Paris, he was already successful and well-known. He was accepted as a member of the Academy in 1766 and, in 1778, was appointed designer of the King’s gardens and given lodgings in the Louvre. He exhibited regularly at the Salons until 1797 and completed countless commissions for the nobility, aristocracy and foreign dignitaries throughout his career. He was renowned for his imaginary landscapes featuring ancient ruins and beautiful gardens, often incorporating both known and fantastical architectural elements in his compositions.
A related drawing (fig. 1) was sold at Sotheby's London, 8 July 1998, lot 72.
The following condition report is provided by Sarah Walden who is an external specialist and not an employee of Sotheby's:
This painting is extremely exceptional, having virtually never been touched. It retains the most delicate brushstrokes freshly complete and undisturbed down to the most minute detail. Craquelure has gradually developed, with one very slight nudge behind having been protected by a little paper patch and faint surface retouching, and this did increase the craquelure slightly. Even the frame remains intact and in place.
The purity of tone, and freshness of the brushwork even in the fragile cloudscape and delicate description of the outer edge of the pyramid against the sky for example , as well as in the minutiae of the brazen sackers of the pyramid and minute detail of the foreground figures is exceptionally rare.
This report was not done under laboratory conditions.
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