Estate of John David Roberts. By permission of the Treasury Solicitor.

In Storage

William Roberts (1895-1980)

Revolt in the Desert

Roberts won a scholarship to the Slade aged just sixteen. His early work owed a debt to the geometric figures of David Bomberg and Wyndham Lewis and the latter invited Roberts to join the Vorticist group in 1914. During the First World War Roberts served with the Royal Field Artillery. Afterwards his art gradually moved from angular abstraction to his distinctively rounded figurative work.

Roberts provided illustrations for T. E. Lawrence's account of the Arab revolt The Seven Pillars of Wisdom. The two became friends and Lawrence asked Roberts to paint his portrait in 1922. Roberts returned to Lawrence's First World War exploits for this huge painting notable for its rich colour, typically stylised figures and the strong vertical lines of its composition.

Medium oil on canvas
Date 1952
Dimensions 2447mm x 1448mm
Acquisition Number SOTAG : 1958/7
Credit Line Purchased in 1958 through the Frederick William Smith Bequest Fund