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View of an Estuary, with Fisherfolk Drawing in a Net



Hubert Robert (1733-1808)
View of an Estuary, with Fisherfolk Drawing in a Net
oil on canvas
AGLC 366 @ A.G Leventis Gallery

Doubts have been expressed about the authenticity of this painting, but they do not appear to be justified. It is, admittedly, untypical in having large areas of water and sky at the centre of the composition, and lacking any buildings. Study of the figures, however, leaves little doubt that they are by Hubert Robert, and there is no reason to think that they have been inserted into a setting by another hand. It is probable that the untypical nature of the composition is due to the client who commissioned the picture, who evidently wanted it for some decorative purpose. Unfortunately, there is, at the moment, no indication of who that client, or what that location, was. The importance given to water and sky in the centre of the picture – and also a gnarled tree of very similar character – are to be found in another somewhat eccentric painting by François Boucher (1703-1770) that was at the behest of the client, and for a particular location. That is the Garden Scene with a Canal Bounded by a Hedge – the two shown in extreme perspective – one of a pair commissioned by Baron de Waldner, for the Château de Lévis in Alsace.

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About the artist

A French painter, he studied with the sculptor Michel-Ange Slodtz. The drawings he made during his stay in Rome (1754-1765) supplied him with subject matter to work up into oil paintings throughout his career: Roman ruins in idealised surroundings. He returned to Paris in 1765 and enjoyed great success, not only as an artist but also as a designer of picturesque gardens, at Versailles and elsewhere. He was also involved with the development of the Louvre as a public museum.

More paintings of the artist
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