French painter Hubert Robert was much in demand by the upper classes of society, primarily for his pictures of ruins.
The sensational finds of the ancient cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii fascinated amateur archaeologists from all over Europe and increased the demand for antique objects and artistic renderings of ruined palaces and temple complexes.
Robert displayed great technical skill at realising this trend in small-scale paintings. He produced fantastical landscape paintings with romantically situated buildings and picturesque motifs which had little in common with reality. In his painting Fountain on a Palace Terrace, he incorporated pastoral scenes into a staged architectural background. The slanting knotty tree on the right, the slightly dilapidated and partially overgrown terrace walls, together with the washerwomen at the fountain and the promenading aristocratic ladies and gentlemen, carry the viewer into a charming, fictive pastoral idyll.