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3203 SE Woodstock Blvd, Portland, OR 97202, USA

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David Roberts (1796–1864) was a self-taught Scottish painter who rose from the depths of poverty and obscurity in Edinburgh to become one of the most celebrated artists of his generation, a member of the Royal Academy, and a painter whose works can be found in some of the most distinguished public and private collections in Europe and America. A highly ambitious and motivated artist who loved to travel, he is best known for the travelogue of Egypt and the Holy Land that he produced with lithographer Louis Haghe from sketches he made during a nine-month trip to the region in 1838–39. These exquisitely rendered prints of the architecture and topography of the Middle East, as well as the prints of Moorish Spain that he made on a trip there a decade earlier, firmly established him as the accomplished architectural and topographical painter of his day.

In his lecture, art historian John Olbrantz will trace David Robert’s fascinating and colorful career, from his apprenticeship as a house painter and decorator in Scotland in the early 1800s to his emergence as a prominent theatrical scene painter and popular easel painter in Edinburgh and London in the 1820s. He will discuss the Grand Tour and the emergence of travel literature as an important literary genre in late 18th and early 19th centuries and Roberts’s decision, in 1832-33, to travel to Spain and Morocco to sketch the architecture of Moorish Spain and North Africa. He will continue with a discussion of early travelers to the Middle East and Roberts’s epic journey to Egypt and the Holy Land in 1838-39 that finally cemented his artistic legacy. And, he will conclude with a discussion of the art of lithography and the publication of Roberts’s Egypt and Holy Land folios in the 1840s, as well as the final two decades of the artist’s career.   

John Olbrantz is The Maribeth Collins Director of the Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. He holds a BA degree from Western Washington University and an MA degree from the University of Washington in the history of art, and a Study Certificate from the Getty Leadership Institute in arts administration and management. Throughout his long career, he has held museum directorships in Washington, California, and most recently, in Oregon. A specialist in ancient and American art, Olbrantz is particularly interested in Roman art, the history of archaeology, contemporary American art, and the history of museums. Over the years, he has written about the art and architecture of Roman Britain, ancient glass, Roman mosaics from Syria, the history of American Egyptology, the American discovery of the ancient Near East, and the 19th century Scottish artist and traveler David Roberts.

Sponsored by the department of Greek, Latin, and Ancient Mediterranean Studies and the Archaeological Institute of America. Free and open to the public.

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