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David Roberts RA (1796-1864)

David Roberts, RA (1796-1864)

A popular, generous and industrious man, David Roberts rose from poverty in Scotland to become one of Britain’s most prolific and admired artists. On his death in 1864, an obituarist in The Times described him as ‘certainly the best architectural painter that our country has yet produced’. Pioneering and wide-ranging, he was one of the first professional practitioners to experience the Orient at first hand, and the highly dramatic paintings that resulted became a significant source on the region, especially as disseminated through publications.

David Roberts was born in Stockbridge, near Edinburgh, on 24 October 1796, the eldest child of a shoemaker and a laundress. Even before his rudimentary schooling, he had exhibited a love of images and a talent for drawing. As a result, he was apprenticed from the age of ten to Gavin Beugo, an Edinburgh house-painter.

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