In 1754 Robert left Paris for Rome, where he remained for eleven years, and the numerous paintings and drawings in which he recorded Rome and its environs continued to inform his work even after he returned to Paris in 1765. The present painting is one of the artist's more expansive views of the Campo Vaccino. Filled with Roman ruins and situated between the Capitoline Hill and the Colosseum, his vantage point was taken from the temple of Castor and Pollux. That it is a more topographically accurate rendering of the ruins, rather than one of the fantastic capricci that combine real and imagined buildings, suggests that it dates from early in Robert's career when the influence of his teacher, Gian Paolo Panini, was at its strongest.
Robert depicted variations of this view in two overdoor paintings for the château de Chanteloup (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Tours). A drawing of a similar view, signed and dated 1790 (Christie's, London, 9 July 2002, lot 55) shows that Robert was still inspired by his time in Rome even twenty-five years after his return.
A painting entitled Ruines du Campo Vaccino à Rome was exhibited at the Salon of 1773 (see C. Gabillot, Hubert Robert et son temps, Paris, 1899, p. 274).