David Roberts (1796-1864)
The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia . . . with historical descriptions by the Revd. George Croly; [with:] Egypt and Nubia from drawings made on the spot . . . with historical descriptions by William Brockedon. London: F. G. Moon, 1842-1849. 5 volumes in 41 original parts in 31 livraisons, large folio (620 x 444mm). Lithographic portrait of Roberts by C. Baugniet on india paper mounted on card, 4 pp. list of subscribers, 1 engraved map, 5 tinted lithographic vignette titles and 241 plates lithographed by Louis Haghe after David Roberts, the plates mounted on card, all finely coloured and finished by hand, extra-illustrated with three small format letterpress leaves from the publisher to the subscribers which were designed to be discarded once the work was rebound. (Plate numbers 55 and 71 in the 'Egypt and Nubia' section supplied from a smaller copy, spotting to about 20 plates, some slight cockling to the plates in the 'Holy Land' section). Unbound as issued in original morocco-backed cloth-covered boards, blocked in gilt on upper covers (occasional light scuffing or small tears to spines), all within six modern morocco clam-shell boxes, the boxes with cloth sections mounted on covers.
AN EXCEPTIONAL SET OF THE VERY RARE ORIGINAL PARTS OF THE FIRST EDITION OF ROBERTS'S MONUMENTAL WORK ON PALESTINE AND THE NEAR EAST, IN ITS FINEST STATE. One of a very few copies in parts to have appeared at auction in the last 30 years. The work was issued in 41 parts over 7 years in 3 states: a tinted, proof tinted and as here: hand-coloured and mounted on card. The 'Holy Land..' section is here in its earliest state with only two volume titles (this was later increased to three) and no map. The work is beautifully illustrated by Louis Haghe's masterly lithography. Roberts paid tribute to Haghe's work in glowing terms, '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', while Abbey regarded the work as 'one of the most important and elaborate ventures of nineteenth-century publishing, and . . . the apotheosis of the tinted lithograph' (Abbey Travel p. 341). David Roberts was born at Stockbridge near Edinburgh, and at the early age of 10 was apprenticed to Gavin Buego, a house-painter. He continued to work for Buego after his apprenticeship carrying out work on imitation stone-work and panelling at Scone Palace and Abercairney Abbey. By 1818 Roberts had become assistant scenepainter at the Pantheon theatre in Edinburgh, moving on to theatres in Glasgow and finally in late 1821 to Drury Lane theatre in London, where he worked with Clarkson Stanfield. 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 theatre work. In these early years he toured the continent and Scotland, and in 1832-33 visited Spain. In 1838 he made plans for his journey to the Near East, inspired by a love of artistic adventure; departing in August 1839 for Alexandria, he spent the remaining part of the year in Cairo and visiting the numerous tombs and sites. In February the following year he set out to cross the desert for the Holy Land by way of Suez, Mount Sinai and Petra arriving in Gaza, and then on to Jerusalem, concluding his tour by spending several months visiting the biblical sites of the Holy Land, finally returning to England at the end of 1839. The drawings of his tour were submitted to F. G. Moon in 1840 who arranged to bring out a work illustrative of Scripture History, paying Roberts £3,000 for the copyright of the sketches, and for his labour in superintending Louis Haghe's lithography. Abbey Travel 272 and 385; Tooley 401-2; Blackmer 1432. (31)