Sunday, 8 June 2008

POV: David Roberts Weeps


One of my very favorite artists is David Roberts. He was a Scottish painter, and was born at Stockbridge, Edinburgh in 1796. He is especially known for a prolific series of detailed prints of Egypt and the Near East produced during the 1840s from sketches made during long tours of the region (1838-1840). This work, and his large oil paintings of similar subjects, made him a prominent Orientalist painter.

What made me think of him? Well, here's why. This an excerpt from Robert Fisk's "The West's Weapon of Self-delusion", his latest article in the Independent:

"The Tate has just sent me its magnificent book of orientalist paintings to coincide with its latest exhibition (The Lure of the East: British Orientalist Painting) and I am struck by the awesome beauty of this work. In the 19th century, our great painters wondered at the glories of the Orient.

No more painters today. Instead, we send our photographers and they return with pictures of car bombs and body parts and blood and destroyed homes and Palestinians pleading for food and fuel and hooded gunmen on the streets of Beirut, yes, and dead Israelis too. The orientalists looked at the majesty of this place and today we look at the wasteland which we have helped to create."


Robert Fisk is one of the few courageous journalists who tells it as it is.