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(b Paris, 22 May 1733; d Paris, 15 Apr. 1808). French landscape painter. From 1754 to 1765 he lived in Italy (mainly Rome), where he became a friend of Fragonard and made a large number of drawings that were a source for his pictures after his return to Paris. Like Fragonard, he had a lively touch and in their drawings they are sometimes so close in style that it is difficult to distinguish their hands. However, whereas Fragonard was primarily a figure painter, Robert became the chief pioneer and leading exponent of scenes involving ruined buildings (he was nicknamed ‘Robert des Ruines’). Some of his paintings are fairly accurate depictions of real architecture (in this he was influenced by Panini, whom he knew in Rome), but he also produced imaginary ruinscapes, including a type—the ‘anticipated ruin’—in which he showed modern buildings as they might look after falling into decay (The Grande Galerie of the Louvre in Ruins, 1796, Louvre, Paris).

Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)

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