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Rome: Sunset from the Convent of Sant' Onofrio on the Janiculum

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Rome: Sunset from the Convent of Sant' Onofrio on the Janiculum 1856


  • Scottish Art
Roberts' vast panorama portrays a rose-tinted city of Rome, viewed from the elevated terrace of the Sant'Onofrio convent on Janiculum. The picture was based on numerous sketches made in pencil and watercolour during Roberts' visit to Rome in 1853-4. The canvas, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1855, was hailed by Prince Albert as 'the most magnificent work of art of modern times'. Ruskin's criticism, however, prompted Roberts to rework its colouring. In 1857 Roberts presented the painting to the Royal Scottish Academy for inclusion in the future national collection. A year later Edinburgh awarded him the freedom of the city.

Glossary Open

Royal Academy

An independent institution founded in 1768 with Sir Joshua Reynolds as its first president. It is governed by the Royal Academicians - leading painters, sculptors, printmakers and architects, which number no more than 80 at one time. It organises exhibitions at its London galleries, including an annual Summer Exhibition.

Royal Scottish Academy

The Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) was formed in Edinburgh in 1826 by Scottish artists who felt alienated by what they perceived as the elitism of the Royal Institution and its management of contemporary art exhibitions. In 1835, the RSA secured exhibition rights in the Royal Institution building, which had been erected on The Mound by the Board of Manufactures in 1826. The RSA and the Board frequently argued over responsibilities for advanced art education. From 1859, the RSA shared the premises of the new National Gallery of Scotland under the Board’s custody. In 1910, after transferring most of its art collections to the Gallery, the RSA gained exclusive tenancy of the former Royal Institution building, where it continues to hold large-scale annual exhibitions.


A paint with colouring and binding agents diluted with water. It has a transparent quality and is usually applied to paper.

Royal Academy, Royal Scottish Academy, Watercolour


  • Acc. No. NG 304
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 213.00 x 427.00 cm (framed: 263.80 x 478.30 x 15.50 cm)
  • Credit Presented by the artist to the Royal Scottish Academy 1857; transferred and presented to the National Gallery of Scotland 1910