Le Buste, title page from Les Soirées de Rome
13.9 cm x 9.7 cm (5 1/2 in. x 3 13/16 in.)
(Paris, 1733 - 1808)
Medium and Support:
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Karen G. and Dr. Elgin W. Ware, Jr. Collection, 1997
Robert was known as “Robert of the Ruins” for his many paintings, drawings and prints of ruins and cemeteries. Created for Marguerite Le Comte, Les soirées de Rome is a series of views of ancient Roman ruins overrun by lush foliage. Le sarcophage, is an image of an antique tomb similar to those along the Via Appia in Rome. The initials D.M. on the base invoke the Dieux Mânes, or Gods of the Dead. The appeal of Roman ruins is best articulated in the words of Robert’s contemporary, Diderot, when he wrote:
The ideas that ruins evoke in me are of great significance. Everything is reduced to nothing, everything perishes, everything disappears. Only the world is left. Only time remains. How old the world is! I walk between two eternities. No matter where I let my eyes fall, the objects surround me speak to me of an end to everything and force me to resign myself to my own end.