(France, Italy 22 May 1733 – 15 Apr 1808)
61.5 x 72.5 x 1.2 cm panel; 76.7 x 88.5 x 4.5 cm frame
Hubert Robert is one of the quiet voices of French painting. In his youth he worked and studied with Fragonard, a louder talent by comparison, as both artists mastered the subtleties of a shared rococo style. In 1761 they travelled together to southern Italy, the wellspring of Robert's essentially classicising project. Italian view-painters such as Panini and Piranesi authorised his attraction to ancient sites and antiquarian subjects, alerting him to the enduring possibilities of the fragmentary tradition. Even in his native France, Robert's landscapes are unmistakably classical in tenor. The Roman Campagna insinuates itself into this otherwise descriptive scene of the countryside near Paris. Though it lacks anything so imposing as architectural ruins or sculptural wreckage, one senses a powerful note of nostalgia in the work. Even so, few views by Robert are as uncomplicated or as fresh as this, the airiness of the scene prefiguring nineteenth-century innovations in French landscape painting. The artist shown at work on the left is conceivably Robert himself.
AGNSW Handbook, 1999.
Private Collection, France, sold Hotel Drouot, 16 December 1987, lot no. 61
Colnaghi U.S.A., 16 Dec 1987-25 Oct 1988, New York/New York/United States of America, Sold to James Fairfax, 25 October 1988. Purchased by Colnaghi at Hotel Drouot, 16 December 1987, lot no. 61
James Oswald Fairfax AC, 25 Oct 1988-22 Jun 1995, Bowral/New South Wales/Australia, Gift of James Fairfax 1995. Purchased by James Fairfax from Colnaghi, New York, 25 October 1988.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, The James Fairfax collection of old masters, Sydney, 1992. no catalogue numbers
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales Annual Report 1995, Sydney, 1995, 56.
Richard Beresford and Peter Raissis, The James Fairfax collection of old master paintings, drawings and prints, Sydney, 2003, 152 (colour illus.), 153-4, 155 (colour illus.). cat.no. 44, illustration on page 155 is a detail
Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Western Collection: Paintings and Sculpture', pg. 17-77, Sydney, 1999, 32 (colour illus.).
Alan Wintermute (Editor), Claude to Corot: the development of landscape painting in France, New York, 1990, cover (colour illus.), 215-7, 216 (colour illus.). cat.no. 45
Editor Unknown (Editor), Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 'Chronique des Arts' suppliment, Unknown, Mar 1996, 42 (illus.). no. 166
Claude to Corot: the development of landscape painting in France, Colnaghi U.S.A., New York, 01 Nov 1990–15 Dec 1990
The James Fairfax collection of old masters, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 25 Apr 1992–14 Jun 1992
The James Fairfax collection of old master paintings, drawings and prints, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 17 Apr 2003–20 Jul 2003