This painting, pair of Le Bosquet des Bains d’Apollon, may have been a study for a larger canvas by Hubert Robert, currently at the Musée National du Château de Versailles. However, it is actually thought more likely to be a replica from a slightly later date. The Versailles paintings, which were directly commissioned by Louis XVI, were exhibited at the 1777 Salon, where they caused great sensation. This success could explain why the artist produced a new version of the paintings.
Both canvases depict the cutting and replanting of trees at the park of Versailles, as ordered by the king after reaching the throne and as carried out during the winters of 1774–5 and 1775–6. The Versailles and Lisbon paintings differ in some details. However, in both paintings, along with the picturesque elements characteristic of Robert’s work, one can observe the classical group of Castor and Pollux, on the left, and the statue of Milo of Croton by Pierre Puget, on the right. The scene is set at the entrance to the Tapis Vert, with the Bassin d’Apollon at the front and the Grand Canal disappearing into the distance. The bosquet La Colonnade, conceived at the end of the 17th century by architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart, is partially visible.
Count Tolstoy; D. V. Grigorovitch, 1870; Alexander III, Emperor of Russia, Anichkov Palace, 1870–94; Russian Imperial Family, 1814–1917; The Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, 1917–29. Acquired by Calouste Gulbenkian through Antikvariat, April 1929.
H.67 cm; W. 101.7 cm
European Paintings from the Gulbenkian Collection, exhibition catalogue. Washington D. C.: National Gallery of Art, 1950, pp. 84–5, cat. 36.
Jean de Cayeux, Hubert Robert et les jardins. Paris : Herscher, 1987, p. 15–19, 70, 71–2, no. 52.
Luísa Sampaio, Painting in the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum. Lisbon/Milan: Calouste Gulbenkian Museum/Skira, 2009, pp. 102–3, cat. 41.
Calouste Gulbenkian Museum. Lisbon: Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, 2011, p. 159, cat. 135.
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