The Chancel of the Church of the Nativity (or St. Helena), Bethlehem

WAG 8140


This watercolour is related to two other works by Roberts. The first is a painting called 'The Greek Church of the Holy Nativity at Bethlehem'. It was exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts in London in 1840. It was last sold by the Manchester merchant Samuel Mendel (1811 - 1884) at his sale at Christie's on 23 April 1875, lot 311, and bought by Poole (dates unrecorded) for £1417. 10s. 0. It then appeared in 1911 at the Glasgow Exhibition (no. 117), to which it was lent by William Baird (dates unrecorded). It is now untraced. The sketch of this painting in Roberts' diaries and memoranda confirm that the painting was very close in design to the Walker's watercolour. A print was also made of the composition for inclusion as plate 43 in volume II of Roberts' 'The Holy Land: Syria, Idumea, Arabia, etc., 1842-1849'. The lithograph print was made by Louis Haghe (1806 - 1885) and dated 1 December 1842. The Walker's work, which is undated, is the finished drawing for this print. They are identical in composition. The Walker's work has been overlaid with a grid, or squared up, to help Haghe transfer the design from the watercolour on to the lithograph stone section by section. Roberts visited and sketched the Church of the Nativity (or St Helena) in Bethlehem between 4 and 6 April 1839. An account of his visit is recorded in his diary and appears in James Ballantine's (1806 - 1877) 'The Life of David Roberts R.A', published in 1866.