Thursday, June 11, 2015

Hubert Robert, View of Ripetta

Hubert Robert, View of Ripetta, 1766
46.9 x 57.1 in.

Hubert Robert (1733-1808) was a French academic painter.  After a brief stint learning sculpture, his teacher encouraged him to turn to painting and in 1754 he traveled to Rome to study at the French Academy there.  Robert spent eleven years there and became a bit obsessed with ruins. He depicted monuments of ancient Egypt and Greece.  He showed people living in ruins, and even imagined the Louvre in ruins.  In the same year he did a painting of the fully functional Grand Gallery of the museum.  Robert is also celebrated for his landscapes.  View of Ripetta was Robert's entry piece for membership to the French Academy; he was accepted and the painting was shown in the 1767 Salon.  The painting is, like his imaginary view of the ruined Louvre, what's known as a capriccio–an artistic fantasy of an imagined or altered landscape. In this case he did not predict the decay of the city, but placed several disparate Roman locations in the same scene.  The Port of Ripetta, in the foreground, was a port on the Tiber River used for a short time in the eighteenth century.  Dominating the right side of the canvas is the ancient Parthenon, and to the left is the Palazzo dei Conservatori on Capitoline Hill, built in the Middle Ages and renovated by Michelangelo in the Renaissance.  In this way Robert also combined several time periods in the same painting.  Additionally Robert has made the port appear ancient and ruined, although it had only been built in 1703.  This painting show's Robert's great skill in French academicism, and the fascinating romance he saw in ruins.

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