The Finding of the Laocoön (Primary Title)
An Interior of an Imaginary Palace with the Group of the Laocoön (Former Title)

Hubert Robert, French, 1733 - 1808 (Artist)

oil on canvas
Unframed: 47 × 64 in. (119.38 × 162.56 cm)
Framed: 55 × 72 in. (139.7 × 182.88 cm)
The ancient sculpture known as the Laocoön (now in the Vatican Museums) is one of the most famous antiquities in existence. It was unearthed in 1506 in a vineyard planted over the ruins of Emperor Nero’s Golden House in Rome. Hubert Robert, however, has placed the event in an imaginary vaulted ruin based on the architecture in Raphael’s painting of the School of Athens in the state rooms of the Vatican. Robert created this elaborate allegory on art and collecting for the Comte de Vaudreuil, a great collector whose portrait by Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun is also in VMFA’s collection. The tall bearded onlooker in the lower right foreground represents Michelangelo, who was reportedly present at the discovery and able to immediately identify it as the famed lost statue, which had previously only been known from written descriptions.
Signed and dated on column base, lower right: "H. Robert 1773"
Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Fund
Hubert Robert 1733 - 1808, Museé du Louvre, Hall Napoleon, Paris, France, March 7 - May 30, 2016; National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, June 26 - October 2, 2016

Neoclassicism, Museé du Louvre, Hall Napoleon, Paris, France, November 29 2010 - Februrary 14 2011; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, March 20 - May 30, 2011

D'Apres l'Antique, Museé du Louvre, Paris, October 16, 2000 - January 15, 2001

Mehr Licht: Europe around 1770, Art and the Enlightenment, Das Stadel, Frankfurt, Germany, August 22, 1999 - January 9, 2000

Fragonard et Hubert Robert a Rome, Academie de France a Rome, Rome, Italy, December 6, 1990 - February 24, 1991

Hubert Robert: The Pleaseure of Ruins, Wildenstein Gallery, New York, NY, November 17 - December 16, 1988

La Grande Maniere: Historical anbd Religious Painting in France 1700 - 1800, Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, New York, NY, May 2 - July 26, 1987; The Jane Voorehees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers Universtiy, New Brunswick, NJ, September 6 - November 8, 1987; The High Museum of Art at Georgia-Pacific Center, Atlanta, December 7, 1987 - January 22, 1988

Antiquity Discovered: Classical Themes in 18th Century Prints, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA, May 12 - August 8, 1982

The Eye of Jefferson, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, June 3 - September 6, 1976

The Age of Louis XV: French Painting 1710-1774, Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, OH, October 26 - December 7, 1975; Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, January 10 - February 22, 1976; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Canada, March 21 - May 2, 1976

Rome in the 18th Century, The William Benton Museum, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, October 13 - November 21, 1973

The Age of Elegance and Grandeur, Artmobile, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA, August 1967

Gods and Heros: Baroque Images of Antiquity, Wildenstein & Co., October 30, 1968 - January 4, 1969

France in the Eighteenth Century, Royal Academy of Fine Arts, London, December 1967 - March 1968

Neo-Classicism: Style Motif, Cleveland Museum, Cleveland, OH, September 21 - November 21, 1964

Hubert Robert, Vassar College Art Gallery, Poughkeepsie, NY, October 9 - November 11, 1962

Homage to Mozart, Wadswoth Atheneum, Hartford, CT, 1956

Century of Mozart, Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, KS, 1956

Muth, Susanne, editor. Laokoon: Auf Der Suche Nach Einem Meisterwerk: Begleitbuch Zur Einer Ausstellung Von Studierenden Und Dozenten Des Winckelmann-Instituts Der Humboldt-Universität Zu Berlin Und Des Sonderforschungsbereichs 644 "Transformationen Der Antike", SammlungsräUme Des Winckelmann-Instituts Der Humboldt-Universität Zu Berlin, October 19, 2016-July 31, 2018. VML, Verlag Marie Leidorf GmbH, 2017. (b&w illus, p 207)

Garoult, Guillaume, Catherine Voiriot, Yuriko Jackall, ed. Hubert Robert. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art; London: Lund Humphries, 2016. Exhibition catalogue. Color illus. p. xii-xiii; color illus., cat. no. 27, p. 157.

Faroult, Guillaume, et. al. Hubert Robert, 1733-1808: Un peintre visionnaire. Paris: Somogy Editions and Musée du Louvre, 2016. Exhibition catalogue. (No. 56, p. 235).

Faroult, Guillaume, et al. L’Antiquité Rêvée: Innovations et Resistances au XVIIIe Siècle. Paris: Musee du Louvre, 2010. Exhibition catalogue. (No. 34, p. 172-173).

Faroult, Guillaume, et al. Antiquity Revived: Neoclassical Art in the Eighteenth Century. Paris: Musee du Louvre, 2010. (No. 18, p. 62).

Buranelli, Francesco, et al. “Laocoonte vive.” Laocoonte: alle origini dei Museui Vaticani. Rome: L’Erma di Bretschneider, 2006. (P. 77).

Bailey, Colin B. Patriotic Taste: Collecting Modern Art in Pre-Revolutionary Paris. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002. (No. 164, pp. 180-182, 294).

Brilliant, Richard. My Laocoon: Alternative Claims in Interpretations of Artworks. Berkley: University of California Press, 2000.

D’Apres L’Antique. Paris: Reunion des Musees Nationaux, 2000. Exhibition catalogue. (No. 87, pp. 251-252).

Beck, Herbert, ed. Mehr Licht – Europa um 1770, Die bildende Kunst der Aufklärung. Munich: Klinkhardt and Biermann, 1999. Exhibition catalogue. (No. 17, pp. 38-39).

Senzoku, Nobuyuki. Seiyo-Bijutsukan, Museum of Occidental Art. Tokyo: Shogakukan Inc., 1999. (P. 805).

Hennig, Mareike. “Mehr Licht-Europe Around 1700, Art of the Enlightenment.” Vernissage 22 (Fall 1999). (Pp. 13-15).

Radisich, Paul Rea. Hubert Robert: Painted Spaces of the Enlightenment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. (No. 67, pp. 110, 133-134).

Barriault, Anne. Selections: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Richmond: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1997. (P. 65).

"Antiken." In Bra Böckers Lexicon 2000. Volume I. Höganäs: Bokförlaget Bra Bocker AB, 1997. (P. 299).

Chastel, André. L’Art Francais: Le Temps de L’Eloquence, 1775-1825. Paris: Flammarion, 1996. (P. 76).

Turner, Jane, ed. “Capriccio.” In The Dictionary of Art. Volume 5. New York: Grove, 1996. (P. 686).

Geyer, Bernhard. Scheinwelten: Die Geschichte der Perspektive. Leipzig: Seemann, 1994. (P. 69).

Jean-Marie Perouse de Montclos, Etienne-Louis Boullee, Paris: Flammarion, 1994, p. 122 (illus.), p. 122.

Seemann, E.A. Schein Welten Die Geschichte Der Perspektive. Leipzig, 1994. (P. 69).

Yoshiki Ohno, Neoclassic Art, Revolutionary Epoque Art, Vol. 19: New History of World Art series, Tokyo, Japan: Shogakukan, Inc., 1993, p. 36 and 351, illus. p. 351, fig. 12.

Kimio Nakayama, The Great History of Art, Tokyo, Japan, Dono-sha, 1991, illus. p. 105.

Paula Dietz, “The Grande Galerie of the Louvre,” The Magazine Antiques, New York, Brant Publications, Inc., illus. pl. II, p. 369.

Jutta Held, “Monument Und Volk”: Vorrevolutionare Wahrnehmung in Bildern des ausgehended Ancien Régime, Cologne: Böhlau & Cie, 1990, p. 221, illus. fig. 100, p. 221, p. 493-credit.

Jean Pierre Cuzin, et. al., J. H. Fragonard e H. Robert a Roma, exh. cat., Rome: Fratelli Palombi (French edition, Rome: Carte Segrete), 1990, cat. No. 146, pp. 209-210, color plate XXXVIII.

Colin B. Bailey, “The Comte de Vaudreuil: Aristocratic Collection on the Eve of the Revolution,” Apollo (July 1989), mentioned in endnote # 34, p. 69.

J. de Cayeux and C, Boulot, Hubert Robert, Paris, 1989, p. 207.

Georges Bernier, Hubert Robert: The Pleasure of Ruins, exh. cat., New York: Wildenstein & Co., 1988, p. 85, b/w illus. pp. 32-33.

Donald A. Rosenthal, La Grande Manière: Historical and Religious Painting in France, exh. cat., Rochester: Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, 1987, cat. No. 47, pp. 146-147 (illus.).

Dalibor Vesely, “Architecture and the Conflict of Representation,” AA Files, No. 8, Jan. 1985, p. 33, illus.

Andre Corboz, Hubert Robert, Peinture militante et Architecture Revolutionnaire, Basel & Stuttgart, 1978, illus. fig. 5, pp. 8, 53.

The Eye of Jefferson, exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, 1976, cat. No. 281, illus.

Pierre Rosenberg, The Age of Louis XV: French Painting 1710-1774, exh. cat., 1975, cat. No. 90, illus.

Rome in the 18th Century, exh. cat., The Williams Benton Museum, 1973, cat. No. 106.

Gods & Heroes: Baroque Images of Antiquity, exh. cat., Wildenstein & Co., New York, 1968, cat. No. 36, pl. 41.

Sheldon Nodelman, “After the High Roman Fashion,” Art News, vol. 67, no. 7, Nov. 1968, pp. 34-37, illus.

Robert Rosenblum, “Neoclassicism Surveyed,” Burlington Magazine, 1965, p. 33.

Paul Grigaut, “Ruins and Rose Petals,” Arts in Virginia, Winter 1964, pp. 26-29.

France in the Eighteenth Century, exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts, 1967, cat. No. 587, illus. fig. 253.

Henry Hawley, Neo-Classicism: Style and Motif, exh. cat., Cleveland Museum, Harry Abrams, Inc., 1964, cat. No. 36.

Hubert Robert, exh. cat., Vassar College Art Gallery, 1964, cat. No. 6.

Homage to Mozart, exh. cat., Wadsworth Atheneum, 1956, cat. No. 51, illus. 24.

Century of Mozart, exh. cat., Nelson-Atkins Museum, 1956, Cat. No. 93, illus. 31.

P. de Nolhac and G. Pannier, Hubert Robert 1733-1808, Paris, 1910, p. 110.
Collection of the Comte de Vaudreuil. [1] Baron Maurice de Rothchild [1881-1957], Château Prégny, Switzerland. (Rosenberg and Stiebel, New York) by 1962; Purchased by Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA), Richmond, Virginia in November of 1962. [2]

[1] Possibly Joseph Hyacinthe François de Paule de Rigaud, Comte de Vaudreuil [1740-1817], a French nobleman at the court of King Louis XVI of France. He was a connoisseur and collector of art. Possibly sold in Paris on November 26, 1787; unconfirmed. See object card in VMFA Registration files.

[2] Accessioned November 30, 1962. See VMFA Curatorial file.

Some object records are not complete and do not reflect VMFA's full and current knowledge. VMFA makes routine updates as records are reviewed and enhanced.