Hubert Robert (1733-1808), “Palace Façade with Washerwomen”, Paris, 1791
Oil on canvas
Bequest of Georges-Eugène Bertin, 1914
© Les Arts Décoratifs
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This decorative composition, one of a series of seven, adorned the drawing room of the mansion of the fermier general Antoine Chardon in the village of Auteuil, a property he purchased in 1777. Hubert Robert, who regularly spent his summers in Auteuil, created this decoration in 1791.
Robert’s work combined ancient monuments, wth their suggestion of eternity, and picturesque elements heralding the Romantic Movement: a delapidated manor with wooden turrets, a ruined Gothic fortress.
Hubert Robert’s varied repertory stemmed from drawings he made while traveling in Italy and sketches he executed in Normandy and Provence. His creativity and sense of the picturesque earned him success, and he went on to design English-style gardens in which he recreated the kind of imaginary ruins that feature in his paintings.