France in ruins: paintings by Hubert Robert c.1786-1788

Dudley, Lauren Louise (2014). France in ruins: paintings by Hubert Robert c.1786-1788. University of Birmingham. M.Phil.

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This thesis considers French artist Hubert Robert’s (1733-1808) paintings from 1786-1788, including his contributions to the 1787 Salon exhibition. This study examines the artist’s major commission for King Louis XVI, the Monuments de France series (1787), which depicts antique ruins in the south of France. The series is compared to Robert’s images of urban demolition projects in eighteenth-century Paris, which are discussed in relation to contemporary discourses relating to architecture, politics, history, hygiene, morality and social changes. The focus paintings of contemporary Paris include L’intérieur de l’Eglise des SS. Innocents, dans le commencement de sa destruction (c.1786-87), La démolition des maisons du Pont Notre-Dame (c.1786) and La démolition des maisons du Pont-au-Change (c.1788). Current scholarship attributes the artist’s interest in painting ruins to his training in Italy and the emergence of the ‘cult of ruins’. However, this thesis argues that Robert represented the French landscape using the ruin motif to connote to viewers the historical and political symbolism linked to the depicted sites. This thesis offers new interpretations of Robert’s work by considering Enlightenment discourses in relation to the represented landscapes and their sites of display.

Type of Work: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.Phil.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.Phil.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music, Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > ND Painting


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