This somewhat melancholy idealised landscape explores the theme of the poetry of ruins made fashionable by Claude Gellée and La Hyre. It is one of the few paintings attributed with certainty to Mauperché, one of the greatest French landscape artists of the middle of the century.
The artist depicts fantastical classical architecture, overrun by vegetation and enlivened by picturesque details, flower pots on a cornice, laundry hung out to dry and a pulley, on the banks of a marsh dotted with reflections.
The dark tones of the rushes and dead trees in the foreground gradually lighten towards the distant haze, according to the rules of aerial perspective.
The slender figures could represent the shepherd Theagenes welcoming Charicles on the banks of the Nile, a scene from the famous novel by Heliodorus, Aethiopica.
M. A. P.