A pupil of Pierre-Antoine de Machy, Moreau was a member of the Academie St-Luc and painter to Louis XIV’s brother, the Comte d’Artois. He is now known chiefly for his countryside views which can be particularly evocative and sensitively painted. His style can be somewhat different when using the alternative medium of oil and gouache but this present piece is identical in style and manner to a similar round gouache that was offered at Galerie Koller, Zurich, 9th September 1999, lot 91. Comparison can also be made with a gouache landscape in Musee Cognacq-Jay, Paris.
In the 18th century the Grand Tour became an essential part of a gentleman’s education for those who could afford it. It grew out of an enormous admiration, particularly by the British, for classical civilisations, especially that of Rome; for the Italian Renaissance; and to a lesser extent for the civilisation of France as exemplified by the court of Louis XIV at Versailles. The typical itinerary would be Paris, then the great art cities of Italy – Venice, Florence, Rome and Naples. Many would either commission works of art or bring back ancient examples.
The French countryside has an assortment of fine ruins left by the Romans, the Pont du Gard being perhaps the most obvious. This particular view with elegant figures being guided through the ancient remains could have been painted for one such tourist as a memento.