DAVID ROBERTS, R.A. (1796-1864)
The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia . . . with historical descriptions by the Revd. George Croly -- Egypt and Nubia from drawings made on the spot ... with historical descriptions by William Brockedon. London: F.G. Moon, 1842-1849. 6 volumes, broadsheets (611 x 437mm.) Lithographic portrait of Roberts by and after C. Baugniet on india paper mounted, 6 tinted lithographic vignette titles, 121 plates and 120 illustrations, lithographed by Louis Haghe after David Roberts, 2 engraved maps. Loosely-inserted mounted handcoloured lithographic print of 'Chapel of the Annunciation, Nazareth, April 28th 1839' [The Holy Land pl.32]. (Variable spotting, some marginal dampstaining, extending into the text or image on a few leaves and one map, The Holy Land lacking the subscribers leaf.) Contemporary maroon half roan ruled in black over cloth, spines lettered in gilt in two compartments, upper boards with gilt armorial ensigns of Jerusalem, gilt edges (extremities a little rubbed, some partial fading on boards).
FIRST EDITION OF ROBERTS' MONUMENTAL WORK ON PALESTINE AND THE NEAR EAST, which was issued in 41 parts over 7 years in 3 states: tinted, tinted proofs and coloured and mounted on card. The two works were beautifully illustrated by Louis Haghe's masterly lithography, to which Roberts paid tribute 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 mainland Europe 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 travelling on to Jerusalem, concluding his tour by spending several months visiting the biblical sites of the Holy Land, before 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 his superintendence of Louis Haghe's lithography. Abbey Travel 272 and 385; Tooley 401-2; Blackmer 1432. (6)