The present painting is a classic exemple of Hubert Robert's notion of the picturesque in painting. At the center of an architectural capriccio, Robert recreates the commanding bronze equestrian statue of Cosimo I de'Medici, which had been unveiled in the Piazza della Signoria in Florence in 1594. Rather than depict it in its recognizable setting, Robert creates an entirely fantastical site in which he surrounds the statue with vestiges of ancient Roman architecture, notably the famous pyramidal Temple of Cestius and the colonnaded Temple of Saturn. A multitude of figures inhabit the scene, chatting, climbing stairs, washing clothes, and tending children, dressed in a bewildering array of costumes that includes contemporary dress on the washerwomen and children; capes, plumed hats and ruffled collars reminiscent of Renaissance style on the conversing men; and the occasional toga of the ancient world. Painted in a warm chromatic range, the gracefully arranged figures and monuments of different cities, regions and eras all harmoniously coexist in a timeless world beneath a broad sheltering sky.
This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the paintings by Hubert Robert being prepared by The Wildenstein Institute. A date of circe 1780 has been suggested for this work.