top of page
Plate 108 Island of Graia, Gulf of Akaba - After David Roberts
  • Plate 108 Island of Graia, Gulf of Akaba - After David Roberts

    This sublime composition by Roberts was painted on the 27th February 1839 and depicts the Isle of Graia in the Gulf of Aqba. Writing in his journal, the artist noted 'near our encampment is a small island with a ruined fortress, of which we could learn nothing. Our water as exhuasted, and this morning we arrived about 12 noon, our camels and Arab attendants apparently making a great impression on the inmates of the pigmy fortress, who offered to accommodate us within the walls, but we preferred to pitch our tents outside. After we had rested and dressed, we proceeded to the fort, on the invitation of the governor, who was seated on a divan of rude stone, surrounded by his military attendants, without uniforms, and Bedouins in their sheepskins, with red and yellow handkerchiefs round their heads. We smoked and drank coffee, and arranged to have an Arab despatched to the chief of the tribe of the Alloueens, without whose permission we could go no further.' [1]


    The island depicted was 'little more than a large rock, it was possible to make out the remains of a fortress or a city that - it was said - had flourished before the Crusades. In effect, it is thought that the Citadel of Graia once formed part of the fortifications of nearby Eilat. Both Eilat and its neighbour, Aqaba, take their origins from Ezyon Geber, the Biblical port that built by Solomon on the shores of the Red Sea. Occupied by Nabateans, Romans, Byzantines, and Arabs, it was finally destroyed by a Crusader army around 116, during the siege of Eilat.' [2] 


    The drawings and watercolours from this tour of the Holy Land and Egypt by David Roberts were collated together into lithographic folios and released over a seven year period (1842-1849) by the publisher F.G. Moon from 20 Threadneedle Street London. This lithograph is from the Royal Subscription Edition (1842-1849) which includes original hand-colouring from Louis Haghe's studio. There were only around 500 copies produced per lithograph in this edition.


    Medium: Original Royal Subscription Edition, hand-coloured lithograph on thin India paper.


    Full Plate 108.


    Inscribed l.l. 'Isle of Graia Gulf of akabah arabia Petraea Feb 27th 1839' and l.r. 'David Roberts R.A.', 31.1 x 48.2cm (lithograph size), mounted.




    [1] David Roberts' Egyptian and Holy Land Journal, 27th March 1839.


    [2] Fabio Bourbon (ed). Yesterday and Today: The Holy Land. Swan Hill Press: London, 1997, p.62. Translated by Antony Shugaar.


    Condition report: generally in very good condition. There are some very small foxing marks but these are not at all obvious unless viewed up close. Please see photographs.

      bottom of page