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David Roberts R.A. (1796-1864) - Abbeville, Northern France 1825
  • David Roberts R.A. (1796-1864) - Abbeville, Northern France 1825

    A very detailed study by David Roberts of Abbeville in the North of France from one of his earliest continental tours (Katherine Sim's 1984 book 'David Roberts: A Biography' says that the first time he travelled abroad was in 1824 where he visited Dieppe, Rouen and Le Havre, see p.42). Abbeville was a popular place for artists to visit and his friend Clarkson Stanfield produced various sketches of the town from his own tours. Interestingly, Sims does not mention another trip in France in 1825 (which is the date for this work) which adds further significance to this drawing. It is perhaps unsurprising Roberts ventured to the continent again because his previous trip had been a great success with him earning various commissions and acknowledgement from the London art world. Lord Northwick bought two of his paintings of Rouen and Dieppe (Sims, p.44) and paid more than the price Roberts had them for sale at. Therefore he would have wanted more material to work with to consolidate his growing attention and most likely this Abbeville sketch was used to produce an oil painting as there is a complete highly detailed watercolour in Eton College's collection on Abbeville (see photos, dated 1830) which is incredibly similar to this drawing. It includes an almost identical composition except that it there is a church in the background which is most likely the Cathedral. The buildings are almost identical in this drawing and Roberts almost certainly used it to draw the Eton College watercolour. This watercolour was also later worked into an engraving which the British Museum have in their collection (see photos). It was produced for the publication 'The Winter's Wreath' and was dated 1832 emphasising that Roberts' trips to the continent were highly succesful in his early career and helped to pave the way for his important visits to Spain and later the Holy Land.


    Other works of Abbeville from 1825 can be found at the VAM and a work called 'Figures on a street, Abbeville' sold at Sotheby's in 2005. The later work also says that Roberts was issued a French passport in 1825, 1828 and 1829. The 1825 passport records travel to Dieppe in August where Roberts made studies of the church of St Jacques. He then commenced to Abbeville where he sketched many buildings from the town including the main church St. Wulfram.


    Medium: Pencil and watercolour washes on paper.


    Inscribed lower left 'Abbeville Sept. 31st 1825', 25 x 36 cm, framed.

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