The Cloister of the Augustinian Nuns

Hubert Robert (French, 1733-1808)
late 18th century
Oil on canvas 
51-1/4 x 41-3/8 in. (130.2 x 105.1 cm) 
Credit Line:
The Norton Simon Foundation 
Accession Number:
© The Norton Simon Foundation 
On View

Hubert Robert went to Rome in 1754, reveling in the archeological fever and great intellectual ferment that followed the discovery of Herculaneum and Pompeii. No doubt Robert’s inclination toward subjects depicting architectural fantasies and ruins was further nurtured through his studies with Giovanni Paolo Pannini and his warm acquaintance with Giovanni Battista Piranesi.

The Cloister of the Augustinian Nuns reveals Robert’s delight in describing the long, perspectival recession of the arcade, and the wash of light that gives a strong diagonal accent to the canvas. Several preparatory drawings exist for the nuns shown going about their chores. This and other genre elements, such as the cat sunning itself on a blanket and the kettle on the fire, contribute to the picturesque aesthetic so beloved in the eighteenth century.


Vicomte G. Chabert (sale, Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, 5 June 1909, lot 10, ill., as Le Cloître, for Ff 9,500, to);
Jonas, buying for;
Mr. Charley.
le Comte Etienne de J., by 1922.
Société “Styles” (sale, Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, 4 December 1922, lot 19, ill., as Le Cloître, for Ff 24,000, to);
Comtesse de Chavagnac;
Descent of Montesquiou-Fezensac, sold 1979 to;
[Galerie Cailleux, Geneva, sold 12 May 1981, in partnership with E. V. Thaw & Co., Inc., New York, to];
The Norton Simon Foundation.

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