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Plate 124 Suez, General View - After David Roberts
  • Plate 124 Suez, General View - After David Roberts

    Writing in his journal on the 10th February 1839, Roberts wrote 'came in sight of Suez and the Red Sea; country around, a desert - not a shrub or tree in the whole line of road, marked only by the mouldering skeletons of camels. Suez runs out into the sea, defended landward by a wall. On the opposite side of the gulf, the mountains are reflecting the rays of the setting sun, in a red glow of fire, contrasting powerfully with the deep blue sea, and surpassing all other scenes in moral grandeur, from the mighty events which took place there. Suez picturesque. Made a few sketches. Boats curious in form; sea limpid and pure.' [1]


    In Cairo Roberts combined with the English travellers, John Pell and John Kinnear. Their plan 'was to reach Palestine by following the route believed used by Moses, from Suez to Aqaba through the Sinai, and then following the valley of El Ghor all the way to Petra, and thence on to Hebron. The three Europeans decided to wear local garb, so much more practical in the brutal heat of the desert. Roberts, who intended to pay visits to a number of mosques, was also obliged to shorten his thick sideburns. The caravan was formed of twenty-one camels and escorted by nearly the same number of armed Beduins. The baggage included a number of tents, blankets, and weapons, along with adequate quantities of munitions and foodstuffs. The group left Cairo on 7th February and was within site of Suz and the Red Sea three days later, after following a considerable distance a track marked only by the fossilized carcasses of camel after camel. On every hand was a featureless sun-beaten desert without a hint of tree or shrub in any direction. The city of Suez lay along the sea, and walls protected the side that was exposed to the interior. On the opposite side of the Gulf and in sharp contrast with the motionless surface of the great body of water, stood the mountains of Sinai, reflecting the rays of the setting sun in a red fireball.' [2]


    The drawings and watercolours from this tour by David Roberts 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 an original First Edition version published on the 1st August 1843.


    Medium: Original First Edition Lithograph, with later hand-colouring on thick woven paper. Note, our work does not have a rainbow over Suez, some versions do.


    Full Plate 124.


    Inscribed l.l. 'SUEZ Febry 11th 1839', 33.2 x 49cm, mounted.




    [1] David Roberts Journal, 10th February 1839.


    [2] Fabio Bourbon (ed). Yesterday and Today: The Holy Land. Swan Hill Press: London, 1997, p.28. Translated by Antony Shugaar.


    Condition report: the lithograph is in very good condition for its age. There is very small amount of time staining but this is mainly in the white border and possibly from a previous mount.

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