ROBERT, Léopold
(b. 1794, Eplatures, d. 1835, Venezia)


Swiss painter. Robert was the most widely known and respected Swiss painter of the early 19th century. His work blends Neo-classical rigour with Romantic sentimentality and subject-matter, and he was greatly admired by both contemporary and later critics, such as Charles Clément, Théophile Thoré and Louis Viardot (1880-83), who likened him to Poussin. His reputation waned towards the end of the century, and his work was not re-evaluated until the 1970s.

Robert did not begin his career as an artist but as a merchant. His love of art however triumphed over any other pursuits. In 1810 Robert traveled to Paris to begin his artistic training in earnest. From 1811 and 1816 he worked in David's studio. By 1818, with the assistance of M. Rullet Mezerac, he found himself in Italy where artistic talent flourished. In 1819 the governor of Rome gave him the authority to work in rural villages painting the local mountain folk and brigands. Robert became well known for these scenes depicting Roman and Neapolitan peasants and thiefs.

He exhibited works at the Salons, where among others, Charles X and Louis-Philippe purchased his paintings, and was decorated with the order of the Legion d'Honneur.