David Roberts Scotland

10-24-1796 Stockbridge, SCO - 11-25-1864 London, ENG

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Roberts, David

David Roberts at the age of 10, was apprenticed for seven years to a house painter and decorator named Gavin Beugo, his fellow apprentice being David Ramsay Hay, who became a lifelong friend. During this time he studied art in the evenings. After his apprenticeship was complete, David Roberts's first paid job came in the summer 1815, when he moved to Perth to serve as foreman for the redecoration of Scone Palace. His next job was to paint scenery for James Bannister's circus on North College Street. This was the beginning of his career as a painter and designer of stage scenery.

Although he was making a living from scene painting, it was around this time that David Roberts began to produce oil paintings seriously. In the autumn of 1824 he visited Normandy. His paintings based on this trip began to lay the foundation of his reputation; one of them, a view of Rouen Cathedral.

By 1829 he was working full-time as a fine artist. That year, he exhibited the Departure of the Israelites from Egypt, in which his style first became apparent. In 1831, the Society of British Artists elected him as their president.

J.M.W. Turner managed to persuade him to abandon scene painting and devote himself to becoming a full-time artist. David Roberts set sail for Egypt on 31 August 1838, a few years after Owen Jones. His intent was to produce drawings that he could later use as the basis for the paintings and lithographs to sell to the public. Egypt was much in vogue at this time, and travelers, collectors and lovers of antiquities were keen to buy works inspired by the East or depicting the great monuments of ancient Egypt.

Roberts made a long tour in Egypt, Nubia, the Sinai, the Holy Land, Jordan and Lebanon. Throughout, he produced a vast collection of drawings and watercolor sketches.

On his return to Britain, David Roberts worked with lithographer Louis Haghe from 1842 to 1849 to produce the lavishly illustrated plates of the Sketches in the Holy Land and Syria, 1842–1849 and Egypt & Nubia series. The scenery and monuments of Egypt and Holy Land were fashionable but had hitherto been hardly touched by British artists, and so Roberts quickly accumulated 400 subscription commitments, with Queen Victoria being subscriber No. 1.

Art Movement: Orientalism
Influences: Gavin Beugo, David Ramsay Hay
Traveled: Italy, England, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Spain, Algeria, France, Belgium
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