"reminded him of the Rhine and the Colosseum"

Pierre's abstraction of the ruins of Moscow around him show his rather other-worldly attitude towards the serious events through which he is living. The rapturous contemplation of ruins was a feature of the Romantic philosophy popular at this time (see bookmark to Page 587, "Il faut être mélancolique".) The Rhine valley is an example of the dramatic natural scenery that appealed to the Romantic sensibility. The ruins of the Colosseum in Rome evoked in the Romantic imagination strong feelings about the passing of civilisations and the insignificance of the individual in relation to these things. Both of these types of Romanticism - the worship of wild nature and the fascination with ruins - can be seen as reaching for the infinite, the vast sublime expanse outside of ordinary life.