After a brief career as a housepainter in Perth, David Roberts began work in 1816 as a scenery painter with Mr Bannister’s Touring Circus and Theatrical Company. In 1824 Robert’s paintings were exhibited for the first time at the British Institution in London. That same year, the artist helped to found the Society of British Artists and began travelling throughout Europe. Roberts created numerous drawings during a trip to Spain, a little known country in Britain, which were later published but it was Robert’s visit to the Near East in 1838-9 that became “the great central episode of his artistic life” and established Roberts as one of the most celebrated artists of his day.
Between 1842 and 1849 the Belgian lithographer Louis Haghe executed no less than 247 lithographs after Robert’s drawings. These were issued in monthly installments and bound into volumes under the unwieldy title, The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia. The work was a great success. Associations with a biblical past appealed to the Victorian imagination, and since Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in 1798, the tombs and temples along the Nile had been the focus of intense European fascination.
Roberts was determined to use his own artistic talents to surpass earlier works on the subject. In order to create a true impression of the visual and emotional impact of the scenes witnessed, Roberts often forsook topographical accuracy in favour of dramatic pictorial effect. The first professional English artist to visit Egypt independently of a patron or expedition, Roberts set a standard for topographical illustration that remains unchallenged to this day.
Below are a few examples from our collection of original Antique Roberts lithographs of Egypt, the Middle East and Spain. Please click on an image to see it in high-resolution with details of the work itself. For the full list of views available, please do contact us.
Dendera: Facade of the Temple of the goddess Hathor. To the right of the entrance is a depiction of Cleopatra.
Abu Simble: Elevation of the Great Temple of Ramses II with the four colossi of the Pharaoh with a bas-relief of the god Ra Harakht in centre.
Approach of the Simoon: The Great Sphynx with the infamous, hot cyclonic wind twisting up before the darkening sun. The most dramatic scene in the series. RARE subscribers’ edition.
Bab al-Kalabsha: Portico of the Temple of Kalabshi, the lesser sun god Mandulis. Built in 30 BC but never completed, the temple was moved to Lake Nasser after the building of the Aswan dam.
Grand Approach to the Temple of Philae.
Dendera: View from under the Portico of the Temple at Dendera. The Temple of Hathor or Tenyra was begun in the 4th century by Neferjahor
Suez: View of the the town and the Gulf.
View from under the portico of the Temple of Edfu.
Karnak: Oblique view through the Hypostyle Hall. The reliefs on the columns detail the reigns and battles of Seti I and Ramesses II.
Memnon. The Great Colossi and fragments at the Memnonium.
Panoramic view of the temple complex and sacred lake from the Tomb of Horemheb.
Great Courtyard of Karnak and the Column of Taharqa.
Panorama of the Lybian Mountains (Eastern Desert range) from the Temple of Luxor.
Medinet Abou. Remains of the Coptic Church inside the Temple.
Panorama of the ruins at Luxor of the Temple of Ramses II.
Entrance to the Tombs of the Kings: Biban-el-Molook in the Valley of the Kings.
Temple of Edfou at Ancient Appolinopolis Magna. Dedicated to the god Horace.
Giza: Great pyramid Cheops, second pyramid Cephren and the Sphynx.
Medinet Abou. Distant view of the Temple.
Colossi of Memnon: The northern statue depicts Amenhotep III with his mother Mutemwia, and the southern statue the pharaoh with his wife Tiy.
Kom Ombo: Ruins of Kom Ombo. The double entrance to the Temple
Slave Boat on the Nile. Looking towards the Pyramids of Dashour and Saccara.
Memnomium: Ruins of the Memnomium,Temple of Ramses II (Lesotris) during a Storm.
Jerusalem from the South: Valley of Jehosaphat with the City in the distance.
View over Askalon and the Sea of Tiberias.
Sidon (Sayda): Panoramic view from the shore of the port and its Sea Castle built by the Crusaders.
Temple Mount: The Western Wall and Dome of the Rock.
Petra: The Ravine. The ancient capital of the Nabatean Kingdom built by the 4th century BC was rediscovered by the West in 1812.
Galilee: Sea of Galilee or Lake Tiberias. Panoramic view showing the sea and surrounding mountains.
Nablous, Ancient Shechem: Panorama of the city with evening camel train and ruins in foreground.
Petra: Looking south toward the main site on Jebel al-Madhbah.
Caiphas looking towards Mount Carmel.
Panorama of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives to the Mosque of Omar.
Jordan Valley: Descent upon the valley of the Jordan.
Petra: View of the theatre built during the reign of King Aretus of the Nabataens in 9BC-40 AD.
Nazareth: Convent of Terra Santa.
Mount Sinai: Panorama from the valley approach.
Distant panorama of the City with robed figures in foreground.
Petra: Al Khazneh, the treasury. View of the entrance to Nabatean mausoleum.
Jerusalem and the Valley of Jehoshapat from between Scopas and the Mount of Olives.
Gaza: Panoramic view approaching by Beit-Gebrin. With the Egyptian Light Dragoons and Lancers marching to Sidon (Sayda).
Sidon (Sayda): Panoramic view from the hills towards Lebanon.
Mount Sinai: Convent of St.Catherine, looking towards the ruin of the encampment.
Petra: Remains of the Triumphal Arch erected to the Emperor Hadrian (76-138 AD).