David Roberts in the Orient

Observation and Fantasy


16 July–28 August 2016
Exhibition in study room (Vorlegesaal) and Grüner Saal


The Scottish painter David Roberts belongs to a group of 19th-century travellers to the Near East whose depictions and descriptions shaped popular perceptions of a previously little-known region. In 1838–39 he spent 11 months travelling around Egypt and the region now encompassed by the countries of Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon. He was fascinated by the multitude of antiquities that bore witness to the region’s long history, and captivated by the alien, barren desert landscape. His impressions of the culture, landscape, and daily life of the Near East reached a wide audience through elaborate publications of his drawings. Artists of later generations used these drawings as models, but also frequently visited the Near East themselves to form their own impressions of the region. Their portrayals of exotic landscapes and ornamental abundance dominate our impression of the Orient to this day – and often distort our view of an ever-changing region.