Scottish Victorian artist David Roberts was a frequent visitor to Italy. His ‘Interior of the Duomo, Milan’ shows the building he once described as ‘beyond expectation’. When exhibited at the Royal Academy, London, in 1857, this work was accompanied by the following text:
‘The two great pillars supporting the octagon, and betwixt which the procession ascends the steps leading to the choir, are encircled by pulpits of bronze and silver begun under the directions of San Carlo Borromeo, and completed by the Cardinal Frederick. These are covered with basso-relievos by Andrea Pallizone, and rest on colossal caryatides, representing the symbols of the four evangelists and the four doctors of the church, St. Gregory, St. Jerome, St. Ambrose and St. Augustine, modelled by Brambella and cast by Busca.’
David Roberts, son of a shoemaker from Stockbridge, Edinburgh, began his career at the age of ten as an apprentice to a house painter. On completing his apprenticeship he was employed on the decoration of Scone Palace in Perthshire. He later became a scene painter for James Bannister, who ran a circus in Edinburgh, and at the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh, before moving to London in 1822, where he turned to easel painting. Roberts exhibited at the British Institution, Society of British Artists and Royal Academy. He is best-known for topographical paintings and illustrations resulting from trips to Spain and the Middle East. He died aged 68 at his home in Fitzroy Street, near Tottenham Court Road, London, and is buried at Norwood Cemetery.
Painted for industrialist John Houldsworth (1807-1859) of Cranstonhill, Glasgow; by whose executors sold through the Bath Street Exhibition Rooms, Glasgow, on 12 April 1860 for £1070; from which sale purchased by Agnew’s Gallery, Manchester; collection of politician Captain Joseph Fenton (c.1820-1893) of Bamford Hall, Rochdale, (also of Bashall Lodge near Clitheroe and Blundellsands near Liverpool) from at least 1874 to 1879; collection brewer and politician Daniel Thwaites (1817-1888) by 1887; collection of Mrs Thwaites from at least 1890 to 1897; by descent to John and Oscar Yerburgh (great grandsons of Thwaites); by whom sold through Christie’s, London, on 27 October 1950 (Lot 87); from which sale purchased by Agnew’s Gallery, London, on behalf of the Ministry of Works
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