Lot 3075* - A194 Old Master & 19 c. Paintings - Friday, 25. September 2020, 02.00 PM


(1733 Paris 1808)
Washerwomen by a river with temple ruins in the background.
Oil on canvas.
Signed lower left: H Robert.
163 × 106.5 cm.

- David Étienne Rouillé (most likely directly ordered from the artist for the Hôtel Rouillé de l'Étang, Paris).
- Marquise du Plessis-Bellière collection (1817–1890).
- Auction Hôtel Drouot, 8–9.5.1897, Lot 76.
- Kimbell Museum, Fort Worth, until 1987, Inv. No. 75.2 (label verso).
- Sotheby's, New York, 4.6.1987, Lot 166.
- Derek Johns Ltd, London.
- European private collection.

New York 1942, French and English Art Treasures of the XVIIIth Century, Parke Bernet Galleries, New York, December 1942.

- Catalogue des tableaux anciens et modernes, pastels, dessins, aquarelles..., suite de tableaux décoratifs par Hubert Robert: vente après décès de la collection de Mme la Marquise du Plessis-Bellière provenant du Chateâu de Moreuil et de l'Hôtel Rouillé de l'Étang, auction catalogue Hôtel Drouot, 8–9 May 1897, pp. IIIf and 22–25, most likely No. 76.
- Joseph Baillio: Hubert Robert's Decorations for the Château de Bagatelle, in: The Metropolitan Museum of Art Journal, 1992, vol. XXVII, p. 166.
- Katharine Baetjer: French Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art from the Early Eighteenth Century through the Revolution, New Haven/London 2019, pp. 293f.

This atmospheric Mediterranean landscape depicting washerwomen at a spring with ruins in the background is a characteristic example of the work of the French landscape painter Hubert Robert. It is believed to have been a part of the interior decoration of the Hôtel Rouillé de l'Étang on the Place de la Concorde in Paris, now known as the Hôtel du Plessis-Bellière. David-Étienne Rouillé de l'Étang (1731–1811), who most likely commissioned a series of paintings from Robert around 1776, or at least selected the paintings for his stately residence, was a high-ranking government official. Since Rouillé remained childless, all his possessions passed first to his niece Adélaïde, Marquise de Pastoret (1765–1843), and later to his grandniece, the Marquise du Plessis-Bellière, born Marie-Louise-Thérèse de Pastoret (1817–1890). In 1897, part of the estate was auctioned off by the Parisian auction house Drouot, and thus the multi-part picture series was dispersed. Two of Robert's paintings, which today belong to the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, appear to come from the same context. Instructions in the upper right-hand corner of the picture, as well as the treatment of the canvas edges provide information about the painter's working methods.

Hubert Robert specialised in both invented and accurate architectural views, which earned him the sobriquet "Robert des Ruines". His eleven-year stay in Italy played an important role in this, during which time he was in contact with Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–1778) and Giovanni Paolo Panini (1691–1765). In 1765 Robert returned to France, where the influence of his older contemporary François Boucher (1703–1770) is also visible in his work. In this view, for example, the woman at the left sitting on the water’s edge is a motif reminiscent of Boucher.

This painting will be published in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the works of Hubert Robert.

CHF 180 000 / 250 000

€ 157 890 / 219 300