Friday, 16 October 2015

David Roberts - part 1

Lithograph of David Roberts
David Roberts RA (1796 – 1864) was a Scottish painter. He is especially known for a prolific series of detailed lithographic prints of Egypt and the Near East that he produced as watercolour sketches he made during long tours of the region between 1838 and 1840. These, along with his large format oil paintings of similar subjects, made him a prominent Orientalist artist. He became a Royal Academician in 1841.

Roberts was born in 1796 in Stockbridge, near Edinburgh, where he was first apprenticed as a house painter. He became a scenic artist, active in the north, before moving to London in 1822.

He became an inveterate traveller, his most celebrated expeditions being those to Spain and North Africa in 1832 – 33, and to Egypt and the Holy Land. His work became widely known through the prints made from his works. Roberts died in London in 1864. He left a Manuscript Journal and a ‘Thumbnail Sketch’ Journal, recording 252 of his oil paintings, which remain in private collections.

1832 – 33 Spain
In 1832 David Roberts travelled to Spain and Tangiers. He returned at the end of 1833 with a supply of sketches that he elaborated into paintings that became very popular. He executed a series of Spanish illustrations for the “Landscape Annual” of 1836. Then in 1837 a selection of his “Picturesque Sketches of Spain” was reproduced by lithography by Hodgson & Graves of Pall Mall, London.

1838 – 52 Egypt and the Holy Land
Roberts travelled to Egypt at the end of August 1838. His intent was to produce sketches he could later use as the basis for both paintings and for lithographs. Egypt was much in vogue at the time, and travellers, collectors, and lovers of antiquities were ken to buy works inspired by the east or depicting the great monuments of ancient Egypt.


Roberts made a long tour of Egypt, Nubia, the Sinai, the Holy Land, Jordan and Lebanon. Throughout, he produced a vast collection of drawings and watercolour sketches. On his return to England, Roberts worked with lithographer Louis Haghe between 1842 and 1849 to produce the lavishly illustrated plates for the series “ The Holy Land,, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia.” He funded the work through advance subscriptions, which he solicited directly. Roberts accumulated 400 subscription commitments, with Queen Victoria being Subscriber No. 1. Her complete set is still in the Royal Collection.

This is part 1 of an 8 - part series on David Roberts:

1796-1826c Rouen Cathedral oil on panel 47.5 x 31.7 cm Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC.

1818c St Patrick's Church, Cowgate, Edinburgh pencil and oil on panel 39.4 x 28.4 cm Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, UK

1822 Interior of a Cathedral oil on panel 73.7 x 55.9 cm Towneley Hall Art Gallery & Museum, Burnley, UK

1826 The Church of St Jacques, Dieppe oil on canvas 76.8 x 61 cm Brodick Castle, North Ayrshire, Scotland, UK

1827 Le Marché au Blé at Abbeville, from the Grande Place oil on canvas 64.5 x 80.5 cm

1828 Nôtre Dame, Paris pen and ink and watercolour on paper 11.25 x 9.4 cm Denver Art Museum, Colorado

1829 Hindoo Architecture – A Composition oil on panel 40.6 x 30 cm Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, UK

1829 The Departure of the Israelites oil on canvas 130 x 183.3 cm Birmingham Museums Trust, UK

1829 The Porch of St Maclou, Rouen oil on panel 54.6 x 40.6 cm Tate, London

1830 The Shrine of Edward the Confessor watercolour and gouache on paper 32.1 x 46 cm Tate, London

1831 Edinburgh Town and Castle oil on canvas 91.4 x 67.3 cm Dundee Art Galleries and Museums Collection, UK

1831 Rouen Cathedral oil on canvas 183.5 x 137 cm Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool, UK

1832 Moorish Church Interior (Eastern Church) (attributed to) oil on canvas Lancaster Maritime Museum, UK

1832 Ruins of a Temple and an Amphitheatre oil on canvas 136 x 180.3 cm Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, UK

1832 The Great Staircase, Stafford House oil on canvas 133 x 103 cm Government Art Collection, UK

1832 The Lady Chapel, Church of St Pierre, Caen oil on panel 48.7 x 39.7 cm Manchester City Art Galleries, UK

1833 Castillo de Alcalá de Guadaíra oil on panel 40 x 48 cm Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid

1833 Sketches of Seated Moorish Women pencil and wash on wove paper 9.2 x 9 cm © Royal Academy of Arts, London 

1833 Study of Spanish Peasants at Alcalá el Guadaíra pencil and watercolour 19 x 17 cm Denver Art Museum, Colorado

1833 The Giralda, Seville watercolour and graphite heightened with touches of white on blue-grey paper 36.5 x 24.5 cm The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

1833 The Golden Tower, Seville, at Sunset pencil, watercolour and tempera, pen and ink and brush on grey paper 36.2 x 25.8 cm The Morgan Library and Museum, New York

1833 The Torre del Oro oil on panel 39 x 48 cm Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid

1833 Two Spanish Peasants, Andalucia pencil and wash on wove paper 9.3 x 7.4 cm

1833-43 Romanesque Ruins at Nijmegen (attributed to) oil on board 20.3 x 39.3 cm Ulster Museum, Northern Ireland, UK

1833- 34 Tower of Comares, Alhambra, Granada

1833c A Spaniard pencil and watercolour on wove paper 14.3 x 8.4 cm

1833c St. Sophia from the Bosphorus watercolour 20.3 x 29.7 cm Victoria and Albert Museum, LondonBosporus

1833c St. Sophia from the Bosphorus graphite and watercolour on off-white paper Image courtesy of the Indianapolis Museum of Art

1834 Descent into the Plain of Granada pencil, watercolour and gouache 23.2 x 32.5 cm The Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio

1834 Old Buildings on the Darro, Granada oil on panel 44.4 x 59.4 cm Victoria and Albert Museum, London

1834 Ronda, Spain watercolour on paper 23.5 x 33 cm Tate, London

1834 The Tower of the Church of San Nicolás de la Villa, Córdoba oil on canvas 38.2 x 27.6 cm The Hepworth Wakefield, UK

1835 Church of Notre-Dame, Dijon (attributed to) oil on canvas 40.3 x 30.3 cm Glasgow Museums Resource Centre, UK

1835 Entrance to the North Transept, Cathedral of Burgos oil on panel 52.1 x 46 cm Tate, London

1835 The Palazzo dei Priori, Volterra black graphite, heightened with white on blue paper 24 x 14.3 cm The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

1835 The Valley of Jehosaphat, Jerusalem watercolour with touches of opaque white watercolour over black chalk on wove paper 22.9 x 33 cm The Morgan Library and Museum, New York

1836 St Paul's Cathedral, London, with the Lord Mayor's Procession oil on panel 61 x 76 cm Guildhall Art Gallery, London

1836 The Palace of Escorial, Near Madrid, Spain watercolour over pencil 26 x 39 cm

1836c Interior of a Church oil on canvas 58 x 45 cm Rotherham Heritage Services, UK

1837 Edinburgh Castle from the Grassmarket oil on panel 50.5 x 40 cm Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle, UK

1837 King's College Chapel, Cambridge oil on canvas 69.8 x 55.8 cm Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC

1837 London from Fleet Street, the Lord Mayor's Show oil on canvas 70.4 x 90.4 cm Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, UK

1837 The Mosque, Cordova lithograph 55 x 37.4 cm

1837c The Fountain on the Prado, Madrid pencil and watercolour 25.5 x 17 cm Berger Collection, Denver, CO

1838 Abu Simbel Temple Of Ramesses II watercolour

1838 Colossal figures in front of the Great Temple of Aboo-Simbel watercolour

1838 Granada: the Chapel of Ferdinand and Isabella oil on panel 47.5 x 37.5 cm The Wallace Collection, London

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