Lot 7
  • 7

David Roberts R.A.

100,000 - 150,000 GBP
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  • David Roberts R.A.
  • Sidon looking towards the Range of Lebanon
  • signed and dated David Roberts. R. A. 1858 lower left; also signed, titled, dated and inscribed on the stretcher: Sidon looking towards the Range of Lebanon from sketches made on the spot, April 28th 1839/ Painted for Elhanan Bicknell Esq.
  • oil on canvas
  • 58 by 114.5cm., 23 by 45in.


Elhanan Bicknell (commissioned from the artist. Bicknell (1788-1861) was a wealthy businessman and one of the most important British art patrons of his day, notably to JMW Turner, and a friend of Roberts. His son, Henry Sanford Bicknell, married Roberts' only daughter, Christine) (his estate sale: Christie's, London, 25 April 1863, lot 72)
Rhodes (purchased at the above sale)
Sir Charles Booth (sale: Christie's, 13 March 1897, lot 62)
Prior (purchased at the above sale)
Sale: Sotheby’s, London, 20 November 1963, lot 82
Purchased at the above sale by the father of the present owner


British Institution, 1858, no. 76 (titled Tsaida or Sidon, Capital of Ancient Phoenicia, looking towards Mt Lebanon, and exhibited with its pendant, The Ruins of Tyre (see fig. 1))


Roberts’s Record Book, no. 195
The Athenaeum
, 1858, p. 214
The Literary Gazette, 13 Feb 1858, pp. 162-3
The Art Journal, 1858, p. 78
The Times, 8 Feb 1858, p. 9
Illustrated London News, 1858, p. 171
The Athenaeum, 1863, vol. I, p. 592
The Art Journal, 1863, p.121
James Ballantine, The Life of David Roberts RA, Edinburgh, 1866, p. 188, no. 214
Helen Guiterman and Briony Llewellyn, David Roberts, (exh. cat.), Barbican Art Gallery, London, 1986, cited with no. 174
William Roberts, Memorials of Christie’s: a record of art sales from 1766 to 1896, London, 1897, vol. I, p. 203
Fine Art Society, London, Spring ’97, (exh. cat.), 1997, cited with no.10


The following condition report has been prepared by Hamish Dewar Ltd: UNCONDITIONAL AND WITHOUT PREJUDICE Structural condition The canvas is lined and is securely attached to a keyed wooden stretcher. This is providing an even and stable structural support. There are several old exhibition labels and inscriptions on the reverse of the stretcher. Paint surface The paint surface has an even varnish layer. Inspection under ultra-violet light shows some scattered retouchings, most notably small spots and lines of inpainting within the sky and some within the sea. The most significant of these retouchings are an area within the sky close to the upper left framing edge and an area within the sea on the left of the composition. There are also some small retouchings on the lower horizontal framing edge and on the centre of the left vertical framing edge. Summary The painting therefore appears to be in very good and stable condition and no further work is required.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

The present view of Sidon in Southern Lebanon, worked up from sketches made up on the spot in 1839, is one of a pair of Lebanon views Roberts painted in 1858, its pendant The Ruins of Tyre hanging in the Sheffield City Art Galleries (fig. 1). Writing in his diary, Roberts explained: 'I was determined to sketch and got one or two views of an ancient fort connected to the land by a bridge of several arches, which has at one time been guarded by a strong tower’ (MS Eastern Journal, National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh). Roberts' panorama alludes to Sidon's rich history and many conquerors. The figures in the foreground walk on its Roman ruins, while the middle-ground is dominated by the sea castle built by the Crusaders in 1228. Another pair of canvases with similar dimensions, one of Tiberius and the other of Sidon, had been painted by Roberts four years earlier for Alfred Brooks.

We are grateful to Briony Llewellyn for her assistance in cataloguing this work.