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Hubert Robert (1733-1808)
Hubert Robert (1733-1808)

The temple of Serapides at Pozzuoli

Details
Hubert Robert (1733-1808)
The temple of Serapides at Pozzuoli
red chalk, watermark encircled fleur-de-lys and countermark
336 x 449 mm.
Provenance
Lucien Giraud; Paris, 8 December 1953, lot 22, illustrated.
Anon. sale, Klipstein and Kornfeld, 7 June 1961, lot 181, illustrated.
Literature
P. Lamers, Il viaggio del Sud dell'Abb de Saint-Non, Naples, 1995, no. 407d.

Lot Essay

An early study for the print engraved in the same direction by Louis Germain and Jean-Baptiste Linard for Richard de Saint-Non's Voyage Pittoresque ou Description des Royaumes de Naples et de Sicile, Paris, 1781-6, II, p. 172, no. 6 (P. Lamers, op. cit., no. 407, illustrated). The print was described by Dominique Vivant-Denon, who travelled with the artists and wrote the book for the Abb de Saint-Non. Vivant-Denon, although praising Robert's draughtsmanship, criticized him for having failed to record the site accurately: 'Ce que nous pouvons dire pour la justification de l'Artiste habile auquel nous devons cette agrable Composition, c'est que le Plan de ce Temple ne nous a t envoy que fort long-temps aprs; & cette diffrence de proportions dans les Bases de quelques Colonnes a pu lui chapper...la diffrence cet gard est si grande, que l'une toit, pour ainsi dire, la moiti de l'autre, il est impossible que cet Architrave orn de Bas-Reliefs qu'elles supportent dans ce Rtablissement, ait pu exister. Quel toit donc l'emploi? comment toient-elles termines, & quel effet devoit produire cette ligne de Colonnes formant un quarr [sic] rgulier autour de ce petit Temple circulaire? c'est de quoi occuper long-temps le gnie & l'imagination des Architectes'.
The print shows the temple from a slightly different angle from the present drawing. The drawing Robert probably used was sold at Sotheby's London, 23 March 1972, lot 39, showing the temple from the other side, P. Lamers, op. cit., no. 407b, 407c for the counterproof. Using that drawing and the present one Robert then executed a finished watercolour now in Turin, P. Lamers, op. cit., no. 407a. The Turin drawing adds to the composition of the London drawing the truncated columns on the right of the present sheet. The Turin watercolour was eventually engraved, in reverse, for the Voyage Pittoresque.
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