Pair of Paintings: The Colonnade of St. Peter's, Rome, during the Conclave and The Grotto of Posillipo

Pair of Paintings: The Colonnade of St. Peter's, Rome, during the Conclave and The Grotto of Posillipo


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Hubert Robert

(French, 1733-1808)

Oil on canvas

Framed: 56 x 47.5 x 6 cm (22 1/16 x 18 11/16 x 2 3/8 in.); Unframed: 42.6 x 33.4 cm (16 3/4 x 13 1/8 in.)

Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund 1976.97


Hubert Robert studied and worked in Italy in 1754–65. Upon returning to Paris, he entered the Royal Academy as an architectural painter and full member in 1766. His time in Italy would prove to be influential and classical architectural subjects would dominate his subsequent work. Interior of the Colonnade of St. Peter's is based on a drawing dated from 1758, the same year that Pope Clement XIII Rezzonico was elected. Given his interest in classical subjects, Robert has antiquated his subject by aging the condition of the columns and including a soldier dressed in ancient Roman armor. Similarly, Robert imaginatively portrays the Grotto of Posillipo. Measuring over 2000 feet in length, this tunnel was carved from volcanic rock by ancient Romans to connect Naples with Pozzuoli. While this passageway was improved by repaving and reinforcing the arches during the reign of Charles III of Naples (1734–59), this structure was never the grand tunnel Robert depicts—with coffered vaults and engaged columns.

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