Early in his career, eighteenth century French painter Hubert Robert fell under the spell of the ruins of ancient Rome — their scale, suggestions of past grandeur and contrast with his modern times. Partly this was from his own experience while living in rome for eleven years, and partly from exposure to the similar fascination with Roman ruins in the work of Giovanni Battista Piranesi. So fascinated was he with Piranesi’s depictions of ruins, both real and imaginary, he earned the nickname Robert des ruines among the circle of Piranesi’s followers.
While in Italy, Robert did numerous location drawings. When he returned to Paris, his work — in which he spun off form the actual ruins a series of fantastic interpretations — was well received. These fantastic views often were suggestive of immense scale, contrasting tiny figures with the size of the monumental ruins. (If you get a chance to visit Rome, you’ll see where this comes from.)
His paintings were often large and quite detailed. You can best appreciate them in high resolution images on Google Art Project, the Met Museum and other sources. I also have featured a few as Eye Candy posts (listed below).
Robert was prolific, and produced landscapes and interiors of art galleries in grand scale as well as his fantastic architectural views.