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Plate 65 St Jean D'Acre - After David Roberts
  • Plate 65 St Jean D'Acre - After David Roberts

    On the 23rd April 1839 (the day before this picture was drawn) David Roberts wrote in his journal ' Left at half-oast 7 for St. Jean d'Acre, which we came in sight of at 3 o'clock. The situation is striking - a promontory to the norht of the bay, Mount Carmel rising on the south. A large ship of war lay in the offing, and hte fortifications rising above the plain, with the blue sea beyond, formed a picture that would have satisfied [JMW] Turner. We pitched our tents outside the fortifications, and strolled into the town, where we saw that all the buildings had been much damaged by the late war' (1).


    Acre during the period that Roberts visited was the chief commerce of the corn industry of Palestine and 'has always been in a position of the first importance to the governors of Syria. Standing on the northern point of the Bay, of which Carmel forms the southern; heavy and massive on the sea-side; from the land it forms a striking object, with its fortifications rising above the plain, and the Mediterranean, always bright and beautiful, for its background' (2).


    Acre was famous to the British from the history of the Crusades with the Christian armies controlling the city for almost one hundred years in the 12th century. Then in 1799 the French army under the control of Napoleon attempted to take control of the city (which was primarily made up of Turks and Arabs). The British sent two ships of war under Sir Sydney Smith to relieve the defenders and despite repeated attempts to storm Acre, after fifty one days of open warfare, the French pulled back out Syria in a humiliating defeat. Roberts would have been fully aware of the significance of Acre to the British.


    The drawings and watercolours from this tour of the Holy Land and Egypt were collated together into folios and released over a seven year period by the publisher F.G. Moon from 20 Threadneedle Street London. This lithograph is from the Royal Subscription Edition (1842-1849) with only 500 copies produced per depiction. Louis Haghe (the Belgian engraver and friend of Roberts) worked on all of the lithographs for this series.


    Medium: Original Royal Subscription Edition, full-plate hand-coloured lithograph on thick woven paper. Stuck on original backing mount from the 1840s as shown in photographs.


    Inscribed on lithograph l.l. 'St Jean d'acre April 24th 1839', l.r. 'David Roberts 1839', 34 x 50 cm (picture size), mounted.


    Full Plate 65.

    Condition report: very good condition for its age. Small pin sized black marks in the sky which are not obvious unless viewed up close.




    (1) David Roberts' Journal.

    (2) Nachman Ran (ed). The Holy Land. Studio Editions: London, 1989, vol. II, p.30.

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