Arcadian shepherds

Hubert Robert

Paris, 1733 – Paris, 1808

1789
Oil on canvas
208 x 108 cm
2004.3.1
Museum purchase with the assistance of the national and regional governments under the aegis of FRAM, 2004
© Musée de Valence, photo Éric Caillet

Hubert Robert - Les bergers d’Arcadie © Musée de Valence, photo Éric Caillet

Information

It was in reference to Poussin, whose composition on this theme was preserved in the royal collections, that Hubert Robert (Museum guard for Louis XVI from 1778 onward) used Virgil’s theme (The Bucolics) of shepherds gathered around a tomb, an allusion to the fragility of life and the passage of time. A true summary of his work, this at once rural and grandiose landscape evokes the mountainous Arcadia of the Peloponnese, imagined as a Western symbol of a natural world protected from evil. In the foreground Robert associates the humid, forested landscape of Île-de-France and the banks of the Seine, where he travelled and sketched numerous gardens.

Hubert Robert - Les bergers d’Arcadie © Musée de Valence, photo Éric Caillet