Reference URL

Baalbec 1842
  • Scottish Art
David Roberts was the first professional British artist to travel independently to the Middle East in 1838. He was the first British artist to draw the ruins of Ancient Egypt. Like many British artists he used the familiar visual language of European landscapes to capture the unfamiliar scenery. By using architectural motifs to provide structure to compositions like this he is able to present a dramatic scene of classical grandeur, illuminated by sunlight complemented by a large area of shade in the foreground. The dramatic scene is enhanced by the three groups of figures, which convey the sense of scale. The figures also give the picture richer, darker and redder tones that contrast with the sandy colours of the architecture. This painting uses a lot of the essential ingredients that make up a picturesque scene: distant mountains, classical ruins and figures for human interest and to convey motion.

Glossary Open


When an individual or organisation employs an artist to execute a particular project, the process and the resulting work are termed a ‘commission’.


A term applied to certain landscape images and garden or architectural designs. The idea became prominent in the 18th century to describe irregular or rough scenes that were deemed worthy to be painted. This includes subjects such as ruined castles or ramshackle cottages.

Commission, Picturesque


  • Acc. No. NG 2828
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 35.80 x 46.00 cm
  • Credit Bequeathed by Helen Guiterman through the Art Fund, 2008