Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Figures in One of Michelangelo's Niches on the Apse of St. Peters, Rome

Artist:
Hubert Robert (French, Paris 1733–1808 Paris)
Date:
ca. 1763
Medium:
Red chalk. Framing lines in pen and brown ink.
Dimensions:
17 15/16 x 13 3/16 in. (45.6 x 33.5 cm)
Classification:
Drawings
Credit Line:
Bequest of Walter C. Baker, 1971
Accession Number:
1972.118.229
Not on view
This undated drawing relates to a group of views of the Vatican Robert executed in 1763. To emphasize the curvature of Michelangelo's niche, Robert chose a low, oblique vantage point. The perspective presented difficulties nonetheless, despite his use of a straight edge in places. On the left, the hatching sets the columns in shadow, but does not produce a convincing sense of volume. Nor is the rendering of the right side of the pediment, where it is supported by columns and brackets, convincing, largely due to the fact that the perspective of the cornice and that of the entablature do not align. Despite the clumsiness of occasional passages, the architecture plays host to groupings of quickly sketched peasants, some of whom have clambered up into the empty niche, occupying a space presumably intended for sculptures. In the background, a couple of tiny figures are seen in silhouette atop a high wall.

The same niche can be seen from a different and more distant vantage point in an unpublished red chalk drawing formerly in the Gurlitt collection (Berlin, Kunstfund Gurlitt, acc. no. 533090). Signed and dated "1763," the sheet was counter-proofed and reworked with watercolor by the artist who sold it to Pierre-Jean Mariette (Vienna, Albertina, acc. no. 12433).

Perhaps the errors in perspective deterred Robert from selling the Met’s drawing. In any case, it stayed in his studio until his death. Along with another drawing in the museum’s collection, Figures in a Roman Arcade (1972.118.228), this sheet would have been part of nos. 311 to 315, or 317 of the inventory drawn up on August 18, 1821, following the death of Robert’s wife.

(Sarah Catala, December 2016)
Anne-Gabrielle Robert (née Soos) (French (1745-1821)), by descent to her niece,; Charlotte Linussio, by whom sold ca.1860 to; George Washington Riggs (1813–1881), thence by descent; Mlle de L* (Levaque?) , her sale, Galerie Charpentier, Paris, June 22, 1933, lot 18 ("Mlle L*" was “Mlle Levaque” according to George Isarlo, “Hubert Robert,” Connaissance des arts, August 1953, pp.28-33); Donor: Walter C. Baker
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Walter C. Baker Collection of Master Drawings," June 2, 1960–September 4, 1960.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Walter C. Baker Collection of Drawings," June 2, 1960–September 4, 1960.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "French Drawings Recently Acquired, 1975-1984," November 27, 1984–February 10, 1985.

Bean and Turcic 1986.265
Claus Virch Master Drawings in the Collection of Walter C. Baker. New York, 1962, cat. no. 82, p. 47, ill.

Joseph Meder, Winslow Ames The Mastery of Drawing. New York, 1978, cat. no. 203, p. 193, ill.

Jacob Bean "Curatorial Reports and Departmental Accessions: Drawings." In Annual Report of the Trustees of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, July 1, 1979 - June 30, 1980. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 110, New York, 1980, p. 27.

Jean de Cayeux Les Hubert Robert de la Collection Veyrene au Musée de Valence. Ex. cat. Valence, 1985, cat. no. under no. 35, pp. 166-167, ill.

Jacob Bean, Lawrence Turčić 15th-18th Century French Drawings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1986, cat. no. 265, p. 235, ill.

J.H. Fragonard e H. Robert a Roma. Exh. cat., December 6, 1990-February 24, 1991. Villa Medici, Rome, Rome, 1990, cat. no. 130, pp. 185-186, ill.

Perrin Stein "Drawings by Hubert Robert in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Some Restored Attributions." in The Metropolitan Museum Journal. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. 35, New York, 2000, 191.

Margaret Morgan Grasselli, National Gallery of Art Hubert Robert. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 2016, 217.

Catherine Voiriot, Guillaume Faroult, Catherine Voiriot, Musée du Louvre Hubert Robert, 1733–1808: Un peintre visionnaire. Somogy éditions d'art, Paris, 2016, 153, note 6.



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