[Robert des Ruines]
(b Paris, May 22, 1733; d Paris, April 15, 1808).
French painter, draughtsman, etcher and landscape designer. He was one of the most prolific and engaging landscape painters in 18th-century France. He specialized in architectural scenes in which topographical elements derived from the buildings and monuments of ancient and modern Italy and of France are combined in often fantastic settings or fictitious juxtapositions. The fluid touch and rich impasto employed in his paintings, also shared by his friend Jean-Honoré Fragonard, are matched by the freedom of his numerous red chalk drawings and the few etchings that he is known to have produced.
Robert’s father was an official in the service of the Marquis de Stainville whose son, the Comte de Stainville (later Duc de Choiseul), became the young artist’s protector. According to Mariette, Robert learnt drawing as a pupil of the sculptor René-Michel (Michel-Ange) Slodtz, although other sources suggest, improbably, that he studied with the painter Pierre-Jacques Cazes. It is certain, however, that he received a classical education in Paris, at either the aristocratic Collège de Navarre or the Collège de Beauvais....