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Plate 119 Temple on Gebel Garabe - After David Roberts
  • Plate 119 Temple on Gebel Garabe - After David Roberts

    'The 15th of February proved to be one long, gruelling march of fifteen hours through the savage desoltion of the Sinai. The solitude of the place was such that, although they had been on the move for five days, in all that time Roberts and his fellow travellers had encountered only two wayfarers both heading for Egypt. The track led on and on, driving ever deeper into the interior. The following morning before starting up the mountain called Gebel Garabe, the Arab guides sent ahead the camels with the tens, as from that point forward they would only be a burden and no longer a help.' [1] Roberts was overjoyed to then find the ruins of an ancient Egyptian temple that was incredibly well preserved and depicted it for this lithograph. It shows a view of the Temple of Hathor which is usually known as Serabit el-Khadim, in Sinai, Egypt. Considering the proximity to Mount Sinai, it has been suggested that the 'Golden Calf' idol crafted by the Hebrews during Moses' absence may be a reference to the goddess Hathor, who was often depicted zoomorphically as a cow. Roberts' view of the site shows a number of Egyptian stelae amongst the temple foundations, as well as a colossal column capital featuring the distinctive Hathor-head pattern depicting the goddess with bovine ears and heavy plaited hair. A Bedouin man rests against the top of this fallen capital, whilst two of his fellows stand on the temple foundations.


    Roberts writes about this journey in his journal on the 15th and 16th February 1839, noting [I] 'made three sketches, and travelled fifteen hours through the wilderness of Sinai, where the Israelites were condemned to wander for forty years...After much fatiguing climbing, we reached the summit of the mountain; and, to my amazement, instead of a few stones, we found an Egyptian temple in excellent preservation...I made a sketch of this, and felt very much pleased at our discovery.' [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, half-plate hand-coloured lithograph on thick woven paper.


    Half Plate 119.


    Inscribed l.l.'Temple on Gebel Garabe called Serabit El Khadim Feby 17th 1839' and l.r. 'David Roberts R.A.', 22.4 x 32.1 cm (lithograph size), mounted.




    [1] Fabio Bourbon (ed). Yesterday and Today: The Holy Land. Swan Hill Press: London, 1997, p.38. Translated by Antony Shugaar.


    [2] David Roberts' Egyptian and Holy Land Journal, 15th and 16th February 1839.


    Condition report: a few small markings which are not obvious unless viewed up close.

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