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David Roberts RA, The Gateway to the Great Temple at Baalbec

The Gateway to the Great Temple at Baalbec, 1841

David Roberts RA (1796 - 1864)

RA Collection: Art

David Roberts was the first independent British artist to travel and paint extensively in the Near East. His evocative portrayals of ancient monuments and vast desert landscapes brought the topography of Egypt and the 'lands of the Bible' to an appreciative European audience.

This painting, his RA 'Diploma' work, depicts the Great Temple at Baalbec in the Lebanon. Roberts visited this site on his first tour of the region in 1839 and described the daunting task of depicting a building of such 'magnificence…that it is impossible to convey any idea, either by pencil or pen…the beauty of its form, the exquisite richness of its ornament and the vast magnitude of its dimensions are altogether unparalleled...' Around the temple itself, Roberts included tiny figures in local dress, emphasising both the massive scale of the ruin and its location.

Object details

The Gateway to the Great Temple at Baalbec
David Roberts RA (1796 - 1864)
Object type
Oil on panel

758 mm x 618 mm x 215 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
Diploma Work given by David Roberts RA accepted 1841

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