David Roberts, R.A. (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. 6 volumes bound in four, large broadsheets (60.4 x 44.5cm.) Lithographic portrait of Roberts by C. Baugniet on india paper mounted, 2 engraved maps, 6 tinted lithographic vignette titles and 241 plates lithographed by Louis Haghe after David Roberts. (Some heavy spotting, some creasing and small tears to margins of some leaves in first vol. of the Holy Land.) Contemporary red half morocco gilt, spines in seven compartments with raised bands, lettered in the second and fourth, the others with repeat decoration in gilt made up from various small tools, gilt edges (vol.I of the Holy Land disbound, some leaves in other volumes detached, scuffed). Provenance: William Scorer (booklabels).
FIRST EDITION of Roberts' monumental work on Palestine and the Near East. It was issued in 41 parts over 7 years in 3 states: tinted, tinted proofs and coloured and mounted on card. It 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 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 scene-painter 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. (4)