William Robertson (fl.1838-1850).
An album of 45 drawings and relief impressions on paper of archeological remains in Egypt and Nubia. [Egypt: 1838-1839]. 2° (471 x 360mm). The album contains: 29 leaves bearing drawings and sketches in pen and ink, wash and pencil, some with colouring; 12 loosely-inserted sheets of various sizes bearing drawings and sketches in pen and ink, wash and pencil, some with colouring; 3 loosely-inserted sheets of various sizes bearing impressions of carvings; and a plan on the rear free endpaper. Interleaved with modern tissue. (Some leaves detached and with slight fraying and browning at edges, some lightly cockled by damp.) Contemporary vellum-backed paper-covered boards (boards rubbed and scuffed, edges heavily so, spine worn with losses). Provenance: William Robertson, Cairo, December 1838 (inscription on upper pastedown).
A FINE EARLY-NINETEENTH-CENTURY ALBUM OF ORIGINAL DRAWINGS AND RELIEF IMPRESSIONS OF EGYPTIAN ARCHEOLOGICAL REMAINS, MADE BY AN AMATEUR DRAUGHTSMAN DURING A JOURNEY ALONG THE NILE FROM WADI HALFA TO LUXOR. Little is known of Robertson; the drawings show a grounding in the principles of perspective and draughtsmanship, possibly gained in the course of military service. The references in the margins of the album leaves (and notes to the drawings that appear to have been added later) suggest that he was an enthusiastic student of ancient Egyptian history -- although percieved from a viewpoint of biblical, history, as the choice of subjects and biblical quotations in the margins of some drawings show -- , and the album cites contemporary works on Egypt and Nubia by David Roberts, Achille Prisse d'Avennes, G.B. Belzoni, and others. The album was compiled during the course of a journey along the Nile; the upper pastedown bears the inscription Cairo, December 1838, suggesting that Robertson travelled down the Nile from Cairo, and then returned at a slower pace from Wadi Halfa to Luxor, recording the archaeological sites en route between the two points. This album may have been one of a series that Robertson used to record the sites that he visited, as it seems unlikely that he would have not described the sites that he would have encountered on the final stretch of his journey between Luxor and Cairo.
The bulk of the drawings and rubbings contained in the album can be divided into six groups depicting archaeological remains and antiquities:
(1) 10 depicting the temples at Abu Simbel, Nubia, one dated 9 January 1839, the others simply dated January 1839. The subjects include 'Rhamses II (Sesostris) beseiging a strong Fortress in Assyria. From a painted bas-relief on the South Wall of the principal chamber in the Great Temple of Abousimbal, Nubia', 'Sesostris presenting prisoners of different nations to the Deities of Thebes and Abousimbal. From a painted bas-relief, on the West Wall of the Principal Chamber of the Great Temple of Abousimbal, Nubia', and 'Sesostris receiving the news of his army having been attacked by the enemy. From a painted bas-relief, on the North Wall of the Principal Chamber of the Great Temple of Abousimbal, Nubia'.
(2) 2 views of the island of Philae, Nubia, dated 5-6 February 1839.
(3) 3 of Karnak dated 14 February 1839, and 1 March 1839. The subjects include 'Shishak King of Egypt [...] dragging to the feet of the Theban deities [...] the chiefs of conquered nations [...] from a bas relief on the South Wall of the Palace' and 'The Propylon and First Court of the Great Palace'.
(4) 11 of Bibal-el-Malouk, Thebes, dated 16-20 February 1839, or simply February 1839. The subjects include 'Tomb of Menephtha III', 'From a Painting [...] on the Wall of a Chamber in the Tomb of the Pharoah Rhamses Meiamoun', and 'A Painted bas relief in the Tomb of Menephtha I'.
(5) 3 of Madinat Habou, Thebes, dated 23 February. Subjects include 'The Private Palace of Rhamses Meiamoun'.
(6) 3 of Thebes dated 28 February. Subjects include 'The Two Memnons at Thebes'.
In addition to these groups there are a further two archaeological studies (one of 'The Prophlyon & Pronaos of the Temple Slathor (Venus) Denderrah from the Naos', dated 25 December 1838 and one of 'Assouan (Syene)' dated 6 February 1839), and a plan of the Temple of Luxor after Achille Prisse d'Avennes drawn in pencil on the rear endpaper and dated 2 March 1839. There are also three botanical drawings dated 14, 19 and 30 January 1839 depicting 'The Cotton Plant', the 'Fermis' and 'Kharawah The Castor Oil Plant'. These are accompanied by a few loosely-inserted dried leaves and a dried specimen inside a folded sheet of paper with the caption 'Desert of Sinai or Petra 1850'. The six remaining drawings are uncaptioned and unfinished preliminary sketches of various subjects. The three sheets of relief impressions seem to have been made by wetting the sheets of paper and pressing them over the carvings; the outlines so formed have been subsequently traced of in pencil. Two of them are dated 28 February 1838 and are from Thebes, both captioned 'From the tomb of one of the Priests of the 18th Dynasty', and the third is captioned 'Palace of Luxor Ammophis III (Memnon)'.