This painting commissioned by a financier, Jean-François Bergeret de Frouville, was exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1775.
Among Robert’s exhibits at the 1775 Salon was a pair of paintings listed under number 71 as belonging to Monsieur de Frouville. The full description, in translation, was "Two Paintings, one The Return of the Cattle under the Ruins in the Setting Sun, the other The Portico of a Country Mansion, near Florence." The lender was Jean François Bergeret de Frouville (1719–1783), a wealthy official whose older brother was the better known collector Bergeret de Grancourt. The pictures were well received though one critic found Robert’s works inadequately finished and another remarked that the foreground of The Return of the Cattle was overelaborated. Nothing more was heard of them until 1919, when they were exhibited at Gimpel & Wildenstein in New York.
The picture is fully signed, inscribed, and dated Paris 1773, and was therefore completed two years before it was exhibited. The composition is known in several variants, in reverse, principally a drawing in the Musée de Valence and another painting (Musée du Louvre, Paris). Neither of these includes a jet of water or additional buildings in the background.
[Katharine Baetjer 2014]
Inscription: Signed, dated, and inscribed (right corner, on block of stone): H· · / ROBERT. / PINXIT. L. / PARISIORUM.. / ANNO 1773.
Jean François Bergeret de Frouville, Paris (by 1775–d. 1783); ?Baron d'Anchon, Paris; ?Monsieur L. de Lamolère, Paris; ?Monsieur de Boisfleury, Paris; ?Monsieur Favier, Paris; [Wildenstein, Paris and New York, 1919–21; sold to Mrs. Hewitt]; Mrs. Peter Cooper (Lucy Work) Hewitt, Paris (1921–d. 1934)
Paris. Salon. 1775, no. 71 (as "Le Portique d'une Maison de Campagne, près de Florence," with 35.40.1, lent by M. de Frouville).
New York. Gimpel & Wildenstein. "Notable Paintings by Hubert Robert (1733–1808)," May 17–June 14, 1919, no. 11 (lent by Wildenstein).
London. Royal Academy of Arts. "French Art: 1200–1900," January 4–March 12, 1932, no. 191 (lent by Mrs. Cooper-Hewitt).
Paris. Musée de l'Orangerie. "Hubert Robert," December 1933, no. 74 (lent by Mrs. Cooper-Hewitt).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "French Painting and Sculpture of the XVIII Century," November 6, 1935–January 5, 1936, no. 50.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries," November 15, 1970–February 15, 1971, no. 317.
Bordeaux. Galerie des Beaux-Arts. "Profil du Metropolitan Museum of Art de New York: de Ramsès à Picasso," May 15–September 1, 1981, no. 114.
New York. Wildenstein. "Hubert Robert: The Pleasure of Ruins," November 15–December 16, 1988, unnumbered cat.
New York. Colnaghi. "Claude to Corot: The Development of Landscape Painting in France," November 1–December 15, 1990, no. 43B.
[C. N. Cochin or J. F. G. Colson]. Observations sur les ouvrages exposés au sallon du Louvre ou lettre à M. le comte de ***. 1775, p. 41 (Collection Deloynes, vol. 10, no. 160; McWilliam 1991, no. 0247).
"Exposition des peintures, sculptures et gravures de messieurs de l'Académie royale de peinture en 1775." Mercure de France (October 1775), (Collection Deloynes, vol. 10, no. 165, p. 733; McWilliam 1991, no. 0246).
C. Gabillot. Hubert Robert et son temps. Paris, 1895, pp. 118, 275.
Pierre de Nolhac. Hubert Robert, 1733–1808. Paris, 1910, p. 52.
Georges Wildenstein. "L'exposition de l'art français à Londres: Le XVIIIe siècle." Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 7 (1932), ill. p. 72.
Royal Academy of Arts. Commemorative Catalogue of the Exhibition of French Art, 1200–1900. London, 1933, p. 61, no. 235, reads the date as "1775 (?)".
H[arry]. B. W[ehle]. and J[ohn]. G[oldsmith]. P[hillips]. "Notes: Bequest of Lucy Work Hewitt." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 30 (April 1935), p. 91.
Louise Burroughs. "Two Decorative Paintings by Hubert Robert." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 30 (December 1935), pp. 230–32, ill. on front cover.
Charles Sterling. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of French Paintings. Vol. 1, XV–XVIII Centuries. Cambridge, Mass., 1955, pp. 160–62, ill., provides possible provenance.
Jean Seznec and Jean Adhémar, ed. Salons. By Denis Diderot. Vol. 4, 1769, 1771, 1775, 1781. Oxford, 1967, pp. 250–51.
La collection des dessins d'Hubert Robert au Musée de Valence. Exh. cat.Lyons, 1968, no. 59c, p. 293, ill., discusses the architecture as a variant in reverse of the palace depicted in their drawing (no. 59) and the Louvre painting.
Howard Hibbard. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1980, pp. 364, 370, fig. 672 (color).
François Duret-Robert. "New York—Bordeaux." Connaissance des arts no. 353 (July 1981), p. 75.
Jean de Cayeux. Les Hubert Robert de la Collection Veyrenc au Musée de Valence. Exh. cat.Valence, 1985, p. 222, fig. 77.
Jean de Cayeux. Hubert Robert et les jardins. Paris, 1987, p. 56, no. 43, ill.
Jean de Cayeux with the collaboration of Catherine Boulot. Hubert Robert. Paris, 1989, pp. 174–75, 216, 370 n. 5, notes that the 1783 inventory of Bergeret de Frouville's estate included "Quatre tableaux peints sur toile par Boucher et Robert, représentant paysages et architectures"; also notes among his papers a "quittance de prix des tableaux fournis à M. de frouville par Mrs. Robert et Boucher".
Alan Wintermute inClaude to Corot: The Development of Landscape Painting in France. Ed. Alan Wintermute. Exh. cat., Colnaghi. New York, 1990, pp. 91–92, 95, 116, 208–12, 217, no. 43B, ill. (color).
Alexis Gregory. "The French Landscape: Claude to Corot." Journal of Art 3 (December 1990), p. 17.
Joseph Baillio. "Hubert Robert's Decorations for the Château de Bagatelle." Metropolitan Museum Journal 27 (1992), pp. 162, 164, figs. 13 and 14 (overall and detail), observes that the flute player with the wide-brimmed hat is based on a figure in a sheet of studies (fig. 12) which he dates about 1760–65.
Joseph Baillio et al. The Arts of France from François Ier to Napoléon Ier. Exh. cat., Wildenstein & Co., Inc. New York, , p. 79, as "The Portico of a Roman Building".
Old Master Paintings. Christie's, New York. June 6, 2012, p. 89, under no. 81.
Catherine Voiriot inHubert Robert, 1733–1808: Un peintre visionnaire. Ed. Guillaume Faroult and Catherine Voiriot. Exh. cat., Musée du Louvre. Paris, 2016, p. 460.
Marie-Martine Dubreuil inHubert Robert, 1733–1808: Un peintre visionnaire. Ed. Guillaume Faroult and Catherine Voiriot. Exh. cat., Musée du Louvre. Paris, 2016, pp. 113, 115 n. 110, fig. 49 (color).
Artist: Hubert Robert (French, Paris 1733–1808 Paris)Date: ca. 1773Medium: Pen and brown ink, with brush and brown, gray, and blue washes, over a red chalk counterproofAccession: 59.23.70On view in:Not on view