The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt, and Nubia

The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt, and Nubia is a travelogue of 19th-century Palestine and the magnum opus of Scottish painter David Roberts. It contains 250 lithographs by Louis Haghe of Roberts's watercolor sketches. It was first published by subscription between 1842 and 1849, in two separate publications: The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea and Arabia and Egypt and Nubia.[1][2] William Brockedon and George Croly wrote much of the text, Croly writing the historical, and Brockedon the descriptive portions.

The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt, and Nubia
Volume 1, plate 4: "Greek Church of the Holy Sepulchre"
AuthorDavid Roberts
IllustratorDavid Roberts and Louis Haghe
GenreTravel literature
Publication date

Described as "one of the art-publishing sensations of the mid-Victorian period",[1][3] it exceeded all other earlier lithographic projects in scale,[2] and was one of the most expensive publications of the nineteenth century.[1] Haghe has been described by the Metropolitan Museum of Art as "the best and most prolific lithographer of the time".[4]

According to Professor Annabel Wharton, it has "proved to be the most pervasive and enduring of the nineteenth-century renderings of the East circulated in the West."[2]

Travels and publication edit

Roberts began his travel to the region in August 1838. He landed at Alexandria, and spent the rest of 1838 in Cairo. In February 1839 he traveled to Palestine via Suez, Mount Sinai and Petra. From Gaza he traveled to Jerusalem, and around the rest of the region. He returned to Britain at the end of 1839 after falling ill, having spent 11 months in the region. A total of 272 watercolour sketches were shared with the publisher F.G. Moon in 1840 who paid Roberts £3,000 for copyright to the sketches.[5]

Reaction edit

Famed Victorian art critic John Ruskin wrote the work was a "true portraiture of scenes of historical and religious interest. They are faithful and laborious beyond any outlines from nature I have ever seen."[6]

Art historian John Roland Abbey wrote in his Travel in Aquatint and Lithography, 1770-1860 that "Robert's Holy Land was one of the most important and elaborate ventures of nineteenth-century publishing, and it was the apotheosis of the tinted lithograph".[7]

John James Moscrop noted in a recent work on nineteenth century knowledge of Palestine: "The best known of the illustrators was David Roberts. If Robinson produced the nineteenth century's historical geography of the Holy Land, it fell to a Scottish painter, David Roberts, to illustrate it."[8]

List of lithographs edit

Volume 1 edit

Volume 2 edit

Volume 3 edit

88. Title page. Temple of El-Khasne, Petra.

Volume 4 edit

126. Frontispiece. View under the Grand Portico, Philoe. 127. Tile page. Entrance to the Great Temple of Aboo-Simbel, Nubia.

Volume 5 edit

169. Frontispiece. Front elevation of the Great Temple of Aboo-Simbel.

Volume 6 edit

Criticism of orientalism edit

The images have been widely criticized as providing an orientalist perspective on the region.[10] Uzi Baram wrote: "From Said's critique of Orientalism, it is clear that Roberts created picturesque landscapes that embodied British concerns and imagery, landscapes that were translated for the Western gaze. Roberts did not simply capture the landscapes of Palestine; similar to the other Orientalists, he fashioned an image of the Holy Land rather than representing all that he saw."[11]

Meyers states that Roberts was "orientalizing the picturesque ideal in a Levantine setting",[12] and Proctor writes that the images were not an accurate representation but rather a figment of the Western imagination.[13] Bendiner proposed multiple influences underlying Roberts's orientalist style, including his social conscience, opulent taste, self-confidence, sense of history, contemporary international rivalries, and the religious questions of the day.[14]

References edit

  1. ^ a b c Wheatley-Irving 2007, p. 80-81.
  2. ^ a b c Wharton 2006, p. 161.
  3. ^ McKitterick, David (5 March 2009). The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain: Volume 6, 1830–1914. Cambridge University Press. pp. 200–. ISBN 978-1-316-17588-0.
  4. ^ Met Museum, The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia
  5. ^ Jeannie Chapel; Royal Holloway College (1982). Victorian taste: the complete catalogue of paintings at the Royal Holloway College. A. Zwemmer. p. 130. ISBN 9780302005521.
  6. ^ Praeterita : outlines of scenes and thoughts, perhaps worthy of memory in my past life, p.34
  7. ^ Abbey, John Roland (1991). Travel in Aquatint and Lithography, 1770-1860: Asia, Oceania, Antarctica, America. Alan Wofsy Fine Arts. ISBN 978-1-55660-132-3.
  8. ^ Moscrop, John James (1 January 2000). Measuring Jerusalem: The Palestine Exploration Fund and British Interests in the Holy Land. A&C Black. pp. 23–. ISBN 978-0-7185-0220-1.
  9. ^ Pringle, D.; Leach, P.E. (1993). The Churches of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem: A Corpus: Volume 2, L-Z (excluding Tyre). Churches of the Crusader Kingd. Cambridge University Press. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-521-39037-8. Retrieved 2022-07-10. David Roberts ' lithograph purporting to be of beautiful church of St George in which the place of his Lydda is evidently of Abu Ghosh
  10. ^ Chander 2011.
  11. ^ Baram 2007, p. 111.
  12. ^ Meyers 1996, p. 35.
  13. ^ Proctor 1998, pp. 47–66.
  14. ^ Bendiner 1983, p. 78.

Bibliography edit

  • Baram, Uzi (2007). "Images of the Holy Land: The David Roberts paintings as artifacts of 1830s Palestine". Historical Archaeology. 41 (1): 106–117. doi:10.1007/BF03376997. JSTOR 25617429. S2CID 164696852.
  • Bendiner, Kenneth (1983). "David Roberts in the Near East: Social and religious themes". Art History. 6 (1): 67–81. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8365.1983.tb00794.x.
  • Chander, Manu Samriti (2011). "Framing difference: the orientalist aesthetics of David Roberts and Percy Shelley". Keats-Shelley Journal. 60: 77–94. JSTOR 41409556.
  • Meyers, Eric M. (1996). "The British and American Rediscovery of the Holy Land in the Early-Nineteenth Century and David Roberts". In Davies, W.D.; Meyers, E.M.; Schroth, S.W. (eds.). Jerusalem and the Holy Land Rediscovered: The Prints of David Roberts (1796 1864). San Francisco, CA: Harper and Row. ISBN 978-0-938989-15-8.
  • Proctor, J. Harris (1998). "David Roberts and the ideology of imperialism". The Muslim World. 38 (1): 47–66. doi:10.1111/j.1478-1913.1998.tb03645.x.
  • Schroth, Sarah W. (1996). "David Roberts in context". In Davies, W.D.; Meyers, E.M.; Schroth, S.W. (eds.). Jerusalem and the Holy Land Rediscovered: The Prints of David Roberts (1796–1864). Durham, NC: Duke University Museum of Art. pp. 39–49.
  • Wharton, Annabel Jane (2006). Selling Jerusalem: Relics, Replicas, Theme Parks. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-89422-5.
  • Wheatley-Irving, Linda (2007). "Holy Land photographs and their worlds: Francis Bedford and the 'Tour in the East'" (PDF). The Jerusalem Quarterly. 31: 79–96.

External links edit