ROBERTS, David (1796-1864, artist) and George CROLY (1780-1860). The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia. London: F.G. Moon, 1842-1849.
6 volumes, 2o (610 x 455 mm). Mounted lithographic frontispiece portrait of Roberts on india paper by and after C. Baugniet, hand-colored lithographic titles, 241 plates finely colored and finished by hand, all by L. Haghe after Roberts, 2 engraved maps, text and plates mounted on guards. (Some occasional light spotting.) Contemporary citron morocco gilt, spines gilt in 7 compartments with 6 raised bands, tan and brown morocco lettering-pieces, the rest gilt, edges gilt by J. Wright of London (a few light stains or scuffs).
FIRST EDITION, the tinted issue. Although this set is not with the plates on laid paper as in the hand-colored issue, the quality of the coloring suggests it is contemporary. "One of the most important and elaborate ventures of nineteenth-century publishing, and... the apotheosis of the tinted lithograph" (Abbey p. 341).
This work is masterfully illustrated by Louis Haghe's lithography, of which Roberts wrote, "Haghe has not only surpassed himself, but all that has hitherto been done of a similar nature. He has rendered the views in a style clear, simple and unlaboured, with a masterly vigour and boldness which none but a painter like him could have transferred to stone." After an apprenticeship to the Scottish house-painter, Gavin Buego, Roberts became assistant scene painter at the Pantheon theater in Edinburgh. He continued scene painting in Glasgow and finally, in 1821, was hired to work with Clarkson Stanfield at the Drury Lane theatre in London. Both artists exhibited at the Society of British Artists, Royal Academy and British Institution, and by 1830 Roberts was firmly established as a topographical artist and was able to give up his work in the theatre. In 1838 he made plans for a journey to the Near East, inspired by his passion for artistic adventure. He departed in August 1839 for Alexandria and spent the remainder of the year in Cairo and visiting the major tombs and sites of Egypt. The following February he journeyed to the Holy Land, making stops in Suez, Mount Sinai and Petra. He spent time in Gaza before entering Jerusalem and concluded his tour by spending several months visiting the biblical sites of the Holy Land. Roberts returned to England at the end of 1839 and submitted his drawings to F. G. Moon in 1840. The Holy Land was originally published in 3 states: tinted (as here), with tinted proofs, and colored and mounted on card. Abbey, Travel 272 and 385; Tooley 401. (6)