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Classical Landscape with Figures and Sculpture
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Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes
French, 1788
Oil on panel
11 5/16 x 16 1/8 in.
2004.145

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Below a rocky acropolis, two women in classical attire converse with each other. The dress and gesture of the standing woman are echoed in the life-size marble sculpture at the right edge of the painting. Another pair of figures is less immediately visible. On a shadowed pathway, they wind their way up the rough hillside toward the citadel. In the distance, sailboats move in and out of shafts of rain as they traverse a thin sliver of turquoise sea.

Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes exhibited this landscape at the Salon of 1789. The painting's Salon title, a general one, suggests that its subject is simply an imagined classical past. This is an idyllic and idealized antiquity where human activity and architecture are in harmony with one another and with the natural world.