The Colisée was designed as a public arena for concerts, exhibitions, balls, fireworks and naval spectacles. Built by the architect Le Camus between 1769 and 1771, it occupied the area bounded by the rue du Colisée, the Faubourg Saint-Honoré, avenue Matignon and the Champs-Elysées.
The entrance of the building was on the Champs-Elysées and consisted of a large courtyard covered in sand. Going through a series of vestibules, the visitor entered a large rotunda sixty feet in diameter spanned by a dome. Beyond the rotunda was the last courtyard, as depicted in the present drawing, a vast semicircular colonnade in the Tuscan order. A pool intended for naval battles, visible on the right of the drawing, was dug in the middle of the courtyard. The Colisée remained open for scarcely ten years.
In 1772, immediately after its construction, Saint-Aubin drew a number of interior and exterior views of the Colisée. An album of sixteen sheets dated 1772 which depict almost the entire complex, including the rear courtyard, was recorded by Emile Dacier as in the David-Weill collection in 1929, E. Dacier, Gabriel de Saint-Aubin, peintre, dessinateur et graveur, Paris and Brussels, II, 1931, no. 497, the rear courtyard illustrated pl. XVIII). Further drawings of the Colisée are in the Wallace Collection, the Louvre, the British Museum and formerly in the Koenigs Collection, E. Dacier, op. cit., nos. 498-504.