The Holy Land and Egypt and Nubia. 2 Volumes
. Edition of 1,000, hand-numbered on a special limitation page in both volumes. 2 magnificent volumes measuring 20" x 13 ¾" published by the Folio Society. Bound in full canvas cloth printed silkscreen in black and gold. Designs by Neil Gower derived from Roberts’s originals. Gilded top edges, ribbon marker. All 247 Lithographs In The First Ever Large-scale Reproduction. ‘One of the richest folios that ever left the East’ David Roberts was an artist with ambition. Born in relative poverty outside Edinburgh, he spent years developing his skills as an apprentice and a jobbing artisan, graduating to a career painting backdrops for the theatre, first in Edinburgh and then in London’s Covent Garden and Drury Lane. By 1837, he had achieved renown for his landscape paintings of the Rhine and Spain. Unlike most artists, who relied on sketches brought back by other travellers, Roberts had visited these countries himself. His adventurous approach and his technical brilliance would serve him well on the journey of a lifetime – an artistic pilgrimage to Egypt and the Holy Land, the first ever undertaken by a British artist. Roberts set off in August 1838, travelling from London to Marseilles and on to Alexandria. From there he began his journey up the Nile with a crew of six men. He was awestruck by the landscape - 'I cannot express my feelings on seeing these vast monuments' - and sketched the sights that caught his eye, whether a group of crocodiles or architectural wonders such as the Temples of Dendera and Karnak, and the pyramids of Gizeh, which reminded him of the 'instability of all human greatness'. In Cairo, he determined to record modern buildings as well as ancient, and made sketches of minarets, alleys and market places. His observations remain among the few records we have of the early 19th-century city. Thanks to the intervention of the Viceroy of Egypt, Muhammad Ali, Roberts became one of the first Westerners ever to set foot in a mosque and sketch the interior, making sure to discard his hog's-hair brushes before entering. Ultimately continuing as far south as Abu Simbel, Roberts produced over 100 sketches on his journey through Egypt: 'We shall see what impression they make in England.'Roberts next set his sights on Palestine. He travelled across the Sinai desert along the route thought to have been taken by the Israelites when they left Egypt for the Promised Land. He and his team rode camels, wore Turkish costume and carried pistols, rifles and sabres, as much as a disguise as for protection. They slept in tents under the stars and took shelter in the Monastery of St Catherine, where Roberts produced some of his most famous vistas of the Holy Land. Jerusalem was closed to visitors because of plague, but Roberts's luck held and he was able to enter during Holy Week, along with a throng of pilgrims from all over the world: Syrians, Armenians, Copts and Greek Orthodox, 'a vast congregation gathered by one powerful impulse to do homage to the most awe-filled place of recollection on the globe'. For Roberts, it was a memorable culmination to an extraordinary voyage. As well as having visited biblical sites from the Mount of Olives to Jericho, he had assembled, as he put it, 'one of the richest folios that ever left the East'. David Roberts was the first British painter to make an artistic expedition to Egypt and the Holy Land. The result of his travels was a picturesque vision of the Near East that has been hugely influential ever since. Nearly 200 years later, his work is held in institutions such as the Library of Congress in Washington and London's Victoria and Albert Museum. This new Folio Society limited edition reproduces all 247 of his lithographs for the first time on this scale. On his return to London, Roberts sought a publisher for his work, eventually signing a contract with Francis G. Moon for £3,000 - an enormous sum, the equivalent of over £200,000 today. Critics and the public lined up to praise Roberts's works when they were first exhibited. The press lauded the aesthetic quality of his art, its historical and topographical accuracy, and the grandeur of its subject matter. Publication of the first edition was a slow and enormously expensive process. It was printed in sections, each one containing six hand-coloured lithographs created from the original drawings. But Moon's investment paid off. There was no shortage of subscribers, with Queen Victoria (to whom the Holy Land series is dedicated) and Charles Dickens among those reserving a set. Roberts's pictures had caught the imagination of the British public and set a trend for Orientalism in art that would continue to shape the way in which the West perceived the East. Because of its scale, and the scarcity of complete first editions, Roberts's work has rarely been reproduced in its entirety and never before on this scale. In this Folio Society limited edition, all 247 lithographs have been reproduced from one of the few complete hand-coloured copies, held at the John Rylands Library in Manchester.
Thornton's BookshopProfessional seller
Book number: F1780
GBP 1350.00 [Appr.: EURO 1531.5 US$ 1889.34 | JP¥ 203424]
Keywords: Egypt Folio Society