Antique Ruins with Figures
Antique Ruins with Figures, ca. 1765-1778
Pen and ink, brush and wash, watercolor, and white heightening over black chalk on paper
56.5 x 71.9 cm (22 1/4 x 28 5/16 inches)
Museum Appropriation Fund 38.152
The French artist Hubert Robert trained in Rome for more than ten years. He was greatly influenced by the architectural fantasies of his Italian contemporary, Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720 — 1778). Antique Ruins with Figures is an architectural capriccio, a scene in which disparate and often imaginary monuments are brought together in one composition. Robert united fragments of monumental Greek and Egyptian architecture, rendered in the artist’s characteristically delicate, calligraphically lively hand. The two women, frightened infant, and snake undoubtedly evoked associations for Robert’s audience: beauty and youthful innocence contrasted with the Christian symbol of temptation and pagan symbol of death.