Hubert Robert executed this capriccio of ruins and statues while being held at the Parisian jail of Sainte-Pélagie. He had been arrested on the charge of having failed to renew his civilian's card, but it is more likely that he was imprisoned on political grounds. Sainte-Pélagie was the first prison at which he was held, from his arrest on 29 October 1793, until his transferral to the prison of Saint-Lazare on 30 January 1794. Other drawings executed at this date include a study of two prisoners at Sainte-Pélagie playing cards (V. Carlson, Hubert Robert, Drawings and Watercolours, Washington, 1978, no. 58). Robert was eventually released in July 1794, after the fall of Robespierre.