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A Roman Arch, with Fallen Masonry and Three Figures



Hubert Robert (1733-1808)
A Roman Arch, with Fallen Masonry and Three Figures
Black chalk and brown wash laid on paper
AGLC 363 @ A.G Leventis Gallery

A lthough this drawing employs Roman motifs, it appears to be a capriccio (the half-visible column makes no sense in relation to the arch), rather than a depiction of an actual site. Nor is there any obvious parallel for it amongst the drawings that Hubert Robert did in Rome, so it must have been drawn after his return to France in 1765. Interestingly, he seems originally to have intended only to have the figure of the young man – partly, no doubt, to suggest the dimensions of the arch – executed in black chalk, but then decided to add the woman and the boy as companions. They are executed in brown wash alone, which has faded, giving them a somewhat ghostly appearance. At the same time, brown wash was added to the figure of the young man (and to other areas of the drawing), also setting his hat at a different angle (the original one still to be seen in part, a little to the right of it), and creating a different position for his cane and its shadow.

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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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