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Monuments and ruins with column

Hubert Robert

(1733 - 1808) | SR 62

Date : 1773 | Medium : Oil on canvas

Throughout his career Hubert Robert produced many paintings of Italian landscapes from sketches made on the spot during an extended stay in Italy between 1754 and 1764. This picture was part of a decorative ensemble commissioned in 1773 for the Salle des États of the Archdiocese of Rouen.

The project was inspired by the 18th century Venetian portego, the stateroom of Venetian palazzos, often decorated with vedute (views) of Venice (by Canaletto in particular) and of Roman ruins or other Italian motifs. The archbishop of Rouen, Dominique de la Rochefoucauld was ambitious in his reinterpretation of this décor favoured by the Venetian aristocracy, replacing views of Venice with those of Rouen, its surrounding area and the châteaux of the region (a general view of Rouen, the ports of Dieppe and Le Havre, views of the châteaux at Gaillon and La Roche-Guyon, etc.)

In the palazzos of Venice, the vedute enabled the owner to associate himself with the greatness of the city. They also made a connection between Venice and Rome, implying that in fact Venice was the new Rome. Similarly, the archbishop of Rouen wished to demonstrate the importance of his position by drawing parallels with that of the region, its châteaux, towns and ports. By making a link between Rouen and Rome, he revealed the relationship between the world of the present and the world of the future, between Ancient Rome on the one hand, and the grandeur of the towns and châteaux of Normandy on the other. This is why paintings such as the Musée de Rouen’s Monuments and ruins with column would naturally have been hung over doorways in pride of place.