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 Louis Haghe executed no less than 247 lithographs after Robert’s drawings. These were issued in monthly instalments 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 as did Egyptian archaeology. Since Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in 1798, the tombs and temples along the Nile had been the focus of intense European fascination and 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.
The Grand Approach to the Temple of Philae.
Cleopatra’s Needle. Figures in the foreground.
Medinet Abou. Remains of the Coptic Church inside the Temple.
Slave Boat on the Nile. View looking towards the Pyramids of Dashour and Saccara.
View from under the portico of the Temple of Edfou.
Karnac: Oblique view through the Hypostyle Hall. The reliefs on the columns detail the reigns and battles of Seti I and Ramesses II.
Pyramids of Geezeh: Magnificent view of the Great pyramid Cheops, second pyramid Cephren and the Sphynx.
Temple of Edfou at Ancient Appolinopolis Magna. Dedicated to the god Horace, it was one of a number of important temples built on the Nile delta by the Ptolemiac Pharaohs.
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.
Memnon. The Great Colossi and fragments at the Memnonium.
Luxor: Panorama of the ruins of the Temple of Ramses II from the Nile.
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.
Memnomium: Ruins of the Memnomium,Temple of Ramses II (Lesotris) during a Storm.
Ruins of Karnak: Panoramic view of the temple complex and sacred lake from the Tomb of Horemheb.
Entrance to the Tombs of the Kings of Thebes: Biban-el-Molook in the Valley of the Kings.
The Great Courtyard of Karnak and the Column of Taharqa.
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 center.
Dendera: Facade of the Temple of the goddess Hathor. To the right of the entrance is a depiction of Cleopatra.
Medinet Abou. Distant view of the Temple.
Colossi of Memnon: Erected in c1350 BC, the northern statue depicts Amenhotep III with his mother Mutemwia and the southern, the pharaoh with his wife Tiy.
Suez: View of the the town and the Gulf.
Cape Blanco: Ras El Abiad. View along the coast described by Roberts as one of the most sublime scenes in Syria.
Jordan Valley: Descent upon the valley of the Jordan.
Petra: Remains of the Triumphal Arch erected to the Emperor Hadrian (76-138 AD).
Gaza: Panoramic view approaching by Beit-Gebrin.With the Egyptian Light Dragoons and Lancers marching to Sidon.
Temple Mount: The Western Wall and Dome of the Rock.
Bethlehem from the hills. Sacked by the Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd Century, the city was largely rebuilt in the 4th century.
Caiphas looking towards Mount Carmel.
Sidon: Panoramic view from the hills towards Lebanon.
Nablous, Ancient Shechem: Panorama of the city with evening camel train and ruins in foreground.
Distant panorama of the City with robed figures in foreground.
Sidon: Panoramic view from the shore of the port and its Sea Castle built by the Crusaders.
Jerusalem from the South: Valley of Jehosaphat with the City in the distance.
Petra: View of the theatre. Built during the reign of King Aretus of the Nabataens in 9BC-40 AD.
View over Askalon and the Sea of Tiberias.
Mount Sinai, Panorama from the valley approach.
Mount Sinai: Convent of St.Catherine, looking towards the ruin of the encampment.
Site of Petra: Looking south toward the main site on Jebel al-Madhbah. Petra was the capital of the ‘lost’ Nabataean Kingdom.
Galilee: Sea of Galilee also known as Lake Tiberias. Panoramic view showing the sea and surrounding mountains.