ROBERT, Hubert
(b. 1733, Paris, d. 1808, Paris)

Imaginary View of the Grande Galerie in the Louvre in Ruins

Oil on canvas, 114,5 x 146 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

French painting in the second half of the 18th century displays the overlapping or intermingling of pre-Romantic and Neoclassical pictorial ideas, and nowhere is this clearer than in the work of the 'painter of ruins', Hubert Robert. He obtained his ideas from Italy, where he admired the paintings of ruins by Giovanni Paolo Pannini, and witnessed the first excavations in Pompeii. Praised by Diderot, he was immediately consulted when antique pieces were to be placed in the park of Versailles. But his great work was the realization of the Louvre Museum. A comparison of two of his paintings, the first showing a ruined barrel-vault hall, and the second the Grande Galerie in the Louvre, immediately reveals the source of the idea for the top lighting and the "antique effect" that the newly designed gallery is open to the sky. The sublimity of antique ruins was to be transferred to the real building, and this in turn was to be a treasure chest of art and a worthy successor to its antique models.

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