About this artwork

Roberts's drawing celebrates the architecture and decoration of Rosslyn Chapel. The drawing refers to two legends that relate to the Chapel's early history and construction. The two dogs that Robert included allude to the St Clair family, who founded the Chapel in 1466. A motif of two dogs is associated with the family because of an old hunting tale. In the left part of the drawing is a column carved with rich foliate designs that ascend in a spiral. This is the 'Prentice Pillar', which according to legend was the work of an apprentice stonemason whose master killed him in a fit of envy on seeing the completed column.

David Roberts

David Roberts

Roberts' international renown as a landscape painter developed from the lithographs published after his watercolours, inspired by his travels in Europe and the Middle East. He appears in eastern dress in Robert Scott Lauder's splendid portrait of him in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Roberts was apprenticed to an Edinburgh house painter and worked on theatrical sets before establishing himself as a landscape artist. Inspired by Turner, he made regular expeditions abroad. His carefully composed, atmospheric paintings convey both the excitement of experiencing picturesque and exotic sites with fascinating details. Roberts' appointment as a Commissioner for the Great Exhibition of 1851, under the patronage of Prince Albert, confirmed his status.

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