Hubert Robert, ‘Figures on a road beside a walled village, a cart beyond the bridge’, 1760, Christie's Old Masters

Another version of similar dimensions (33.3 x 44.6 cm.) is in the Albertina (inv. 12739) of which there is a counterproof in the Bibliothèque municipale, Besançon (Fonds Pierre-Adrien Pâris). The drawing in the Albertina is more highly finished and was probably executed when the artist was back in his studio whereas the present work was done on the spot. The tower on the left and the second row of the fortified wall are executed in a different shade of red chalk. Could the artist have added these motifs once back in his studio in order to enhance the composition?

The Besançon counterproof bears an inscription 'Napoli' which may indicate where Robert made these drawings. Robert travelled to Naples in mid-April 1760 with the abbé de Saint-Non and they remained in the city until early June.

We thank Sarah Catala for her kind help in cataloguing this lot.

Signature: Signed and dated 'Roberti 1760'

Alan L. Corey; Sotheby's, New York, 5 December 1974, lot 560.

About Hubert Robert

Nicknamed Robert of the Ruins during his life, Hubert Robert was a popular academy painter in eighteenth-century France who was celebrated for his paintings of fictitious landscapes populated with real ruins. After training in Paris, Robert traveled to Rome in 1754 and spent the following decade enraptured with the architectural ruins there, especially the then-recently excavated Pompeii. Such sites became his paintings’ architectural focal points, though they were often situated in lush, imaginary landscapes. Reverential toward ancient Roman culture, he also included renderings of classical sculptures of mythological figures in his paintings. Upon returning to Paris, Robert worked for aristocrats and royals, painting accurate representations of France as well as adding landscape and furniture design to his oeuvre.

French, 1733-1808, Paris, France, based in Paris, France