ONE OF THE GREATEST LITHOGRAPHIC WORKS EVER PRINTED: ROBERTS’ HOLY LAND, EGYPT AND NUBIA
ROBERTS, David. The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt, & Nubia. London: Day & Son, 1855-56. Six volumes in three. Quarto, contemporary full brown blind-stamped morocco sympathetically rebacked, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. $18,000.
First quarto edition of this monumental early visual record of the Middle East by the first Westerner permitted to enter sacred sites, with 250 magnificent tinted lithographs.
Inquisitive Western minds first glimpsed the mysteries of Egypt and the Middle East in detail through David Roberts' folio-sized Holy Land, issued in 41 parts from 1842 to 1849 and containing 250 full-page hand-colored lithographs produced from his magnificent, on-site drawings. Roberts was the first Westerner to be granted permission to enter whichever sacred mosque or monument he desired. His images of these sacred places established what many people even today envision as the aura of Egypt and the Holy Land. "Roberts' Holy Land has a world-wide reputation; nothing of a similar character has ever been produced that can bear a comparison with it" (Ran, 6). Louis Haghe, considered the foremost lithographer of his time, transferred the exquisitely detailed drawings to stone. This is the first quarto edition of 1855-56, containing all 250 lithographic plates contained in the folio edition, including a frontispiece portrait of Roberts, six pictorial title pages, and two engraved maps. Undoubtedly the most famous of these is Plate 240, the great sphinx, still commonly reproduced in poster art. A considerable number of plates are printed in two tints; plates 213 and 240 are printed in three. See Abbey Travel 385, 388; Tooley 401.
Light marginal edge-wear to plates 180-82. Occasional foxing affecting versos of plates only, small and faint marginal dampstain along gutter in Volume VI, images quite clean and fine. Light expert restoration to original morocco boards. A very good set.