The J. Paul Getty Museum

Demolition of the Château of Meudon

Object Details


Demolition of the Château of Meudon


Hubert Robert (French, 1733 - 1808)




France (Place Created)




Oil on canvas

Object Number:



113.3 × 146 cm (44 5/8 × 57 1/2 in.)

Credit Line:

Purchased in part with funds realized from the sale of paintings donated by Peter and Iselin Moller, Dr. Walter S. Udin, and Howard Young

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Object Description

Under a bright, sun-drenched sky, the demolition of the château of Meudon is well under way. In the lower left, a man in a top hat directs four laborers—one clearly shirking his responsibilities. Other workmen transport stones with wheelbarrows or by hand. At center, two women and a young girl admire the ruins. Other visitors have entered the structure and gaze out from a balcony. Another young woman, holding a baby, tends to a group of children playfully lugging a cart across the littered courtyard. At the right edge, an artist with a large sheet of paper on his lap gestures at the scene below.

This diverse human activity—encompassing work, rest, and play—is dwarfed by the château itself, which, although partly demolished, creates a strong diagonal axis through the composition. Hubert Robert also emphasizes the main structure by casting it in strong light. By contrast, many of the figures around the periphery of the composition are shrouded in shadow.

Located near Versailles, with a view of Paris and the Seine River, the château of Meudon was once among France's finest monuments. It fell into disrepair during the 1700s. During the French Revolution, which began in 1789, the château was ransacked and suffered further damage in a fire of 1795. It was demolished entirely in 1803. Rather than documenting the site's actual appearance in that year, Hubert Robert combined fact and fiction, depicting features that had already vanished alongside still-standing ruins.

1806 - 1808

Hubert Robert, French, 1733 - 1808 (Paris, France), in the artist's collection, by inheritance to his wife, Mme. Robert, 1808.

1808 -

Mme Robert, French, (Paris, France), by bequest to M. de Castellan.

late 1800s -

Probably Jean "Gustave" Lebaudy, French, 1827 - 1889 (Château de Rosny, Rosny-sur-Seine, France), probably by inheritance to his son, Marie "Paul" Jules Lebaudy.

1889 - 1937

Probably Marie "Paul" Jules Lebaudy, French, 1858 - 1937, probably by inheritance to his son, "Jean" Gustave Marie Georges Joachim Lebaudy, 1937.

1937 - 1969

"Jean" Gustave Marie Georges Joachim Lebaudy, French, 1894 - 1969 (Château de Rosny, Rosny-sur-Seine, France), by inheritance to Madeleine Lebaudy, 1969.

1969 - 1994

Madeleine Lebaudy, French, died 1999 (Paris, France), sold to Lennartco, 1994.

1994 - 2007

Lennartco (Paris, France), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007.

Hubert Robert, 1733-1808 (March 10 to October 2, 2016)
  • Musée du Louvre (Paris), March 10 to May 23, 2016
  • National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), June 26 to October 2, 2016

Réau, Louis. Histoire du vandalisme: Les monuments détruits de l'art français (Paris: Robert Laffont, 1994), pp. 280, 577.

Grasselli, Margaret Morgan, and Yuriko Jackall, eds. Hubert Robert, exh. cat. (Washington, D. C.: National Gallery of Art, with Lund Humphries, 2016), p. 194, 257, no.101, ill. entry by Yuriko Jackall.

Faroult, Guillaume, ed. Hubert Robert, 1733-1808: Un peintre visionnaire, exh. cat. (Paris: Musée du Louvre, with Somogy éditions d'art, 2016), pp. 414-15, no. 136, ill., entry by Yuriko Jackall.