Department of Art History
Futures and Ruins in Eighteenth-Century Paris
Focusing on a select group of paintings by Hubert Robert, this paper proposes that the cult of antiquity that enveloped eighteenth-century Paris absorbed the anxieties of living in an age of risk. In contradistinction to the construction of neoclassical monuments that triumphantly presented the French capital as the new Rome, Robert’s paintings featuring contemporary urban ruins tapped into sentiments that Paris was poised to go the way of antiquity’s decimated cities. For at a time of unhinging convulsions in monetary life—from fluctuations in the credit economy to volatility in the city’s real estate market—Parisians viewed their modernizing metropolis with a combination of hope and dread that took expression in the aesthetics of antiquity.
Nina Dubin is Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 2006 and joined the UIC faculty the same year. Her publications include articles on the painter Hubert Robert. She has received research support with a Getty Research Institute Residential Fellowship in 2005-2006 and a David E. Finley Fellowship, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, from 2002-2005.