View of Dunkeld Cathedral, Perthshire by David Roberts, RA 1796-1864. 1850s. Oil on board 20 x 24 inches (51 x 61 cm.) Inscribed with title. [Click on image to enlarge it.]

Though Roberts travelled widely through Europe, the Mediterranean and the near East, he returned frequently to his native Scotland. Ecclesiastical interiors mark his travels through Vienna, Rome, Toledo and the like and all of them painted with a dramatic sense of perspective and grandeur but in Scotland he looked to the Romantic with views of dilapidated and ruinous buildings. Indeed, upon visiting Elgin Cathedral (Ruins of Elgin Cathedral 1853, Victoria and Albert Museum, London) he remarked that they were ‘too naked’; as an historical monument, it was free of undergrowth and the picturesque foliage he sought. He must, then, have delighted upon the unkempt charm of Dunkeld Cathedral, Perthshire. Unlike his pictures on a scale set to impress and possessed with a drama that was almost theatrical, Dunkeld Cathedral shows a liveliness in its handling and looseness of brushwork more characteristic of an artist working en plein air. Its softness and transparent shadows coupled with the visible drawing almost take us closer to the artist.

The frame maker’s label affixed to the board verso dates the picture to between 1844 and 1856. — The Fine Art Society 2014


The Fine Art Society 2014. Exhibition Catalogue. Edinburgh: Bourne Fine Art; London: The Fine Art Society, 2014. No. 38.

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Last modified 30 May 2014