René Binet discovered Italy after winning, in 1893, the Chaudesaigues prize, which enabled young architects to spend two years there. Binet used the opportunity to visit Sicily, Algeria and Spain as well. This experience inspired his enthusiastic interest in both the Mediterranean region and in watercolour. Throughout the rest of his career he would repeat these trips on a regular basis, which also brought him relief from his rheumatism. Thus, in the autumn of 1903, he once again visited Italy, and on his return exhibited a collection of watercolours, including this one, at the Galerie Paul Durand-Ruel in Paris.
Here, René Binet represents the fountain at the entrance to the House of the Bear, discovered in 1865 in Pompeii. The name of the house comes from the mosaic on the fountain as it portrays a bear trying to pull out a spear that has gone through its body.
The watercolour demonstrates the architect's great talent as a colourist: his soft-focus technique and brilliant colours favour light rather than line or precision of form. It delighted the State, which bought it in 1904 at the Galerie Durand-Ruel for the Musée du Luxembourg.