Baalbek, looking towards Lebanon

Oil on paper laid on canvas
Image size: 13 x 20 ½ inches
Hand carved gilt frame

Here we see the ruins in all their grandeur. Mailand makes use of sharp contrasts between the brilliant sunlight and the deep shade to paint a perfect illusion of deep pictorial space. In the foreground of this Hellenistic monument are included tiny figures in local dress, emphasising both the massive scale of the ruin and its exotic location.

There are three temples at Baalbek, the largest is the Temple of the Sun. In its time it was the largest religious building in the entire Roman Empire. It was worked on for nearly 50 years and was never completed.

Today, of the Temple of the Sun, there are only six corinthian columns standing, eight others were dismantled by order of the Emperor Justinian and sent by boat to Constantinople, modern-day Istanbul, to be used in the construction of the Basilica Santa Sofia.

Modern Baalbek is in a town in the Bekaa valley in the Lebanon. In Roberts’s day, it was in Syria, or what was known as Syria. Baalbek is rightly famous for its richly ornamented Roman temple ruins. When this part of the world was part of the Roman Empire, Baalbek was known as Heliopolis, with that name you can guess that prior to the Roman Empire it was part of the Greek Empire in the Mediterranean.

Baalbek has been designated a World Heritage site since 1984. The Temple of Bacchus is the best preserved of all three of the temples, although the site was shaken by three earthquakes in the 12th century and once again in 1759.

Nicolas Henri Gustave Mailand was a French painter of history and genre, also a great art collector.

Mailand was born in Paris on March 4, 1810, he was a pupil of M. L. Cogniet, and entered the School of Fine Arts on April 2, 1835. He spent a long time in the Italian Peninsula, painting both realistic landscapes and picturesque scenes with characters in local costumes.

Another passion was the Orient, travelling around Lebanon, Egypt and Syria. From his travels he amassed photographs and objects to use as aids in his paintings.

The art collection of Mailand was world renowned, suggesting he was a man of wealth and so painted for his own interests and not for financial gain.

Much of his art collection crossed the Atlantic at the turn of the century, with his daughter, Marie Julie Mailand (1850-1921). Marie settled in Minneapolis and in 1907, the family acquired a property on avenue Sainte-Geneviève in Quebec City, Canada and the collection was subsequently moved there.