James Roberts spent his early career from 1824-1828 in Paris and he is classified as a French artist in Bénézit's Dictionnaire. His debt to Eugene Lami, one of the specialists in the interior genre most favoured by the French Royal and Imperial families, is obvious. Roberts came to London in the Revolution of 1848, the year the present work was executed. It is possible that Roberts was introduced to Queen Victoria by King Louis Philippe, for whom he had worked in Paris. From 1848 to 1861 he made a great number of watercolours for Queen Victoria, mainly interiors of royal residences.
In 1851 he was commissioned to paint views of rooms in the newly completed Osborne House, the 'marine residence' on the Isle of Wight built for their private family occupation by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
In the autumn of 1857 the Prince Consort invited the Princess Royal, who was about to be married to select rooms in the Palaces she would like to have painted in watercolour by Roberts to take with her to Berlin as mementoes. The Princess chose views she had shared with Princess Alice at Balmoral, Buckingham Palace, Osborne House and Windsor Castle as well as the Queen's Sitting Room and the Library at Balmoral, the Principle Corridor at Buckingham Palace, the Prince Consort's Dressing Room at Osborne and his Writing Room at Windsor Castle (see D. Millar, op.cit., London, 1995, pp. 735-746).
The pictures shown in the watercolour were all newly painted pictures of the Queen's family. Over the mantlepiece the Recollection of Louis-Philippe, Prince Royal of Belgium by Leon Cogniet. Beyond the fireplace are portraits by Winterhalter. The version in the Royal Collection, which is dated 1848, shows the portrait of Prince Albert by Winterhalter on the end wall which was not painted until 1852 so must have been added to the watercolour at a later date. The present watercolour differs to the version in the Royal Collection in the furnishings of the room and in the title which is inscribed in French.