David Roberts, R.A. (British, 1796-1864) The interior of St Paul's at Antwerp 51 x 35 cm. (20 x 13 3
Lot 10
David Roberts, RA (British, 1796-1864) The interior of St Paul's, Antwerp 51 x 35 cm. (20 x 13 3/4 in.)
Sold for £6,000 (US$ 9,321) inc. premium

Lot Details
David Roberts, RA (British, 1796-1864)
The interior of St Paul's, Antwerp
signed and dated 'David Roberts RA 1859' (lower right); also signed, dated and inscribed 'ST JAQUES at BRUGES [sic]/PAINTED FOR/JAMES T. CAIRD Esq/Spafeild House GREENOCK N.B./1859' on reverse
oil on panel
51 x 35 cm. (20 x 13 3/4 in.)

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    purchased from John Green;
    thence by descent to the present owner.

    The present lot depicts the interior of St Paul’s church, Antwerp and is one of at least four versions by Roberts of views of the main chancel.

    Roberts first visited Antwerp in 1827 but it was not until in the autumn of 1845 that he recorded painting the church in a letter to his daughter, Christine Bicknell. He wrote that he was ‘now upon a magnificent interior. The church of the Dominicans with a Splendid Alter [sic] – I think it will be both novel and good’. This ‘on the spot’ painting, along with a further version painted in 1861 for Arthur Burnard, is in a private collection. A larger version, painted for Robert Vernon, is now part of the permanent collection at the Tate Gallery.

    The present lot is recorded in the artists log book as the ‘Interior of the Collegiate Church of St Paul at Antwerp, presented to Mrs James Tennant Caird of Greenock’ (1860, no. 226) and described under a thumbnail sketch as ‘very small’, implying that further versions were indeed much larger. The painting is likely to have been a Christmas present given to Mr and Mrs Caird after the artist visited their home in Scotland in 1858, after which Roberts noted 'nothing can exceed the kindness of Mr & Mrs Caird'.

    In a letter dated 9 January 1859 to David Octavius Hill, secretary of the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA collection), Roberts states that he had sent to Mr Caird 'a little interior of a Church in Belgium, which possibly he might spare [for the coming RSA exhibition] if he could not [find] some of more importance'. According to this note, the panel was painted in 1858 however it may not have been presented to the Cairds until the beginning of January 1859, hence the date on the painting.

    The picture was indeed exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, in 1861 (no. 226) and it's entry comes after that of a further painting exhibited at the Royal Academy in the same year. Alongside this second entry, Roberts notes: '1860, November began the following, or rather this was begun two years previous but completed for the R.A. of 1861', suggesting that Roberts had a tendency to date his paintings based not on the point of actual completion but on the point at which they were either exhibited or presented.

    The whereabouts of the present lot has been unknown since the 19th century and it is with great pleasure that we are able to present it for sale. We are extremely grateful to Krystyna Maty for her kind assistance in preparing this catalogue entry.
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