About this artwork

David Roberts was the first professional British artist to travel independently to the Middle East in 1838. British artists were intrigued by Middle Eastern architecture, especially in Cairo where, under the Ottomans, a tradition had developed of building houses that were modest from the outside but elaborately decorated inside. In Cairo, Damascus and elsewhere, away from the complex religious dynamic of Jerusalem, British artists portrayed Islamic culture more sympathetically. Daily prayers in the great mosques, gatherings for the annual pilgrimage to Mecca and the study of the Qur'an were all frequent subjects. In Egypt, Roberts was officially required to wear local clothing while visiting mosques, but he dressed in his Western European clothes during the voyages on the Nile.

  • title: Interior of the Mosque of Metwalis, Cairo
  • accession number: NG 2829
  • artist: David RobertsScottish (1796 - 1864)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Religion and occultism
  • date created: about 1838 - 1839
  • measurements: framed: 45.00 x 56.60 x 4.50 cm
  • credit line: Bequeathed by Helen Guiterman through the Art Fund, 2008
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

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.