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Rare Books and Special Collections Library

David Roberts Lithograph Folios

David Roberts' Statues at MemnonThe folio volumes containing lithographs of the paintings of Scottish artist David Roberts (1796-1864) represent some of the most notable visual resources in the library's collections. Early in his career Roberts sketched landscape views of Scotland, later apprenticing and working as a painter of scenery for theaters throughout the United Kingdom. Roberts first traveled abroad to paint in 1832, visiting Spain and producing paintings from which lithographs were later made. In 1838 Roberts sailed to Egypt, where he spent several months in the NileDavid Roberts' NubiansValley painting landscapes and views of pharaonic and Islamic monuments as far south as Abu Simbel in Nubia. Roberts returned to the region in 1839, making his way from Cairo to Mount Sinai, the ancient city of Petra, and numerous biblical and classical sites in the Holy Land of present day Israel, Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon.

David Roberts' Sultan Hassan MosqueRoberts' several hundred watercolor sketches were reproduced as lithographs by engraver Louis Haghe, a process that took almost eight years. London publisher F. G. Moon issued the lithographs as Egypt & Nubia and The Holy Land between 1842 and 1849, offered for sale by subscription. Roberts' works represent some of the most famous images of Egypt, and have been frequently reproduced since publication. His depictions of pharaonic monuments, like the Edfu temple or the temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel, are David Roberts' Dendarah Templenoteworthy for showing the structures prior to being fully excavated, adorned with brightly painted surfaces. Roberts' views of Egyptian cityscapes and mosques, mausoleums, and other Islamic monuments have become some of the most indelible European images of Middle Eastern architecture and urban life. The depictions of locations mentioned in the Bible, as well as Hellenistic sites like Petra in Jordan and Baalbek in Lebanon, have also achieved iconic status. The library holds two sets each of the multi-volume Egypt & Nubia and The Holy Land, including finely-bound editions from K.A.C. Creswell’s personal library.