Offered by Galerie PhC
French school from the end of the 18th century attributed to Hubert Robert (1733-1808) and his workshop: the monk and the 4 young women in an ancient ruin.
Linen canvas 95 cm by 80 cm
Important old frame of 114 cm by 99
In this very beautiful painting, the artist takes up the theme of the monk and / or the hermit and these four facetious young ladies. He explored this theme on several occasions during the last two decades of the 18th century (hermit praying in the ruins of a temple that four playful young ladies try to annoy, Los Angeles, Getty museum. Hermit in a garden painted circa 1790 showing a hermit reading under an arbor, while four young women try to disturb his concentration, private collection ...). This theme could make us think of a biblical reference, the temptation of Saint Anthony or a literary allusion to La Fontaine's tales which often describe members of the clergy in compromising situations.
Hubert Robert (1733-1808)
Artist who is undoubtedly one of the main protagonists of the general renewal of landscape painting which marks the second half of the 18th century in France. Hubert Robert was trained during a long stay in Italy (1754-1765). Interest in Claude Lorrain's painting, which was already evident in a Joseph Vernet
and that Natoire (director of the Académie de France in Rome) encouraged willingly, the influence of Pannini, then very fashionable and linked with the milieu of the Académie de France, could decide his vocation. His production, which combines studies from nature and caprice landscapes, offers many possibilities for confusion with that of Fragonard, of whom Robert was a friend; the Cascatelles de Tivoli (Louvre) were thus returned to Fragonard after having long passed for a Hubert Robert.
Hubert Robert, his style once found, will change little: his paintings, views of landscapes, towns or isolated monuments, real or imaginary ruins, always keep an air of poetic fantasy, a liveliness of touch, a certain vaporous character of the atmosphere, even when they have a well-defined subject. Thus the series of small views kept at the Carnavalet Museum, and which witness to some of the transformations of Paris in the last years of the reign of Louis XVI, are much more than documents; the painter's imagination only gives us back the sites and the events, for example the fire of the Opera at the Palais-Royal or the series of Parisian monuments "imagined in ruins" only after having transformed them into a kind of fairyland amiable and almost detached from reality, despite the topographical accuracy. The four great views of monuments of Provence, royal commission of 1787, now kept in the Louvre, are treated in the same spirit. It is easy to see by looking at them the relationship that may have existed between Robert and Piranesi, because it is certain that they knew each other. But the fascination exerted by the grandeur of ancient ruins leads one to distressing representations, while the other remains in the register of a voluptuous reverie.
Happy in his life as in his work, Robert went through the years of the Revolution without any other problem than, during the Terror, a few months of imprisonment at Sainte-Pélagie. As in Fragonard or Guardi, we can see in him a harbinger of romanticism, of a romanticism à la Musset in which the graces of the 18th century retain a flavor of nostalgic pleasure.