Roberts, sometimes known as ‘the Scottish Canaletto’, painted this exotic scene of classical grandeur after an eleven month trip to the Middle East beginning in August 1838. He reached Baalbec, in Syria, on 2 May 1839. The sketches he made in the Holy Land kept him busy for ten years and acted as a source for this painting, which was made in his studio after his return to England. The colonnaded ruined temple, which is illuminated in bright sunlight, dominates the composition and dwarfs the tiny figures in and around it. This creates a sense of awe and sublimity.