Interior of Rosslyn Chapel. Sir David Wilkie, 1785-1841. 1844. Oil on canvas, 112 x 86.5 cm 44 x 34 inches. Courtesy of the Fine Art Socioety. [Click on image to enlarge it.]


Joseph Feilden (1792-1870), Witton Park, Lancashire, bought from the artist for £100; by descent to his son, General Randle Feilden, C.M.G. (1824-1895); R.J.E. Buckingham, his sale, Christie's, 17 April 1964, lot 148, (150 gns.); thence by descent to the previous owner.


British Institution, London, 1844. no. 12; Royal Manchester Institution, Manchester, 1845, no. 125; Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, 1845, no. 37; An Exhibition for the Opening of the New Art Gallery, Blackburn, 1894, no. 25 (lent by General Feilden).

Commentary by the Fine Art Society

Situated high above the River Esk outside Edinburgh, Rosslyn Chapel has inspired many artists, including Roberts, who returned to the subject several times. Here he has depicted the steps to the crypt, and to the left the “Prentice Pillar”, a tour de force of naturalistic carving, in which ivy is carved in stone around the column. The pillar is named after the apprentice who carved it in his master’s absence in Rome and was killed by him on his return in a fit of jealous rage. The master mason’s likeness appears in an upper corner, gazing in perpetuity on his nemesis. Roberts’ involvement with architecture and architectural drawing went deeper than surface decoration; he sought to reveal something of the soul of the place and its history. His travels in Europe and the Near East produced a great number of dramatically captured images of architectural remains, which informed what followed back in Britain.

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Last modified 21 September 2021