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Plate 224 Mosque of the Sultan Qaitbay, Cairo - After David Roberts
  • Plate 224 Mosque of the Sultan Qaitbay, Cairo - After David Roberts

    David Roberts was clearly drawn in by this masterpiece of Mamluk architecture. The Mosque of Sultan Al-Ashraf Qaitbay (also spelt as Qaytbay and Kaitbey) was built between 1472 and 1474 and is one the famous Tombs of the Caliphs. The building consists of various structural elements that 'culminate in the splendid funerary mosque; it was the custom of the sovereigns of that period to build a mosque or a madrasa next to their mausoleum. The underground funerary chamber in which the body was placed with its head wrapped in a white cloth, facing Mecca, was usually bare of ornament, while the domed room above it abounded in decoration.' [1] The architects of Sultan Qaytbay's mosque were more interested in the detail of the structure rather than the gigantic size of the past buildings. The mosque includes 'its wealth of ornament' the fine latticework covering the surface of the dome like lace, and the elegant shape of the 130-foot-tall minaret, are particularly exquisite. In the interior, the prayer room has a splendid mosaic floor made of multicoloured marble pieces. Alongside Sultan Qaytbay's mausoleum is a vestibule in which the tombs of his four wives were placed, bathed in the soft light that enters from the stained-glass windows.' [2] 


    The drawings and watercolours from this sketching tour by David Roberts of the Holy Land and Egypt were collated together into folios and released over a seven year period between 1842 and 1849 by the publisher F.G. Moon from 20 Threadneedle Street London. This lithograph is an original First Edition version and was published on the 1st December 1848. Louis Haghe (the Belgian lithographer and friend of Roberts) oversaw and produced all of the lithographs for this series.


    Medium: Original First Edition Lithograph, Full Plate, hand coloured on thick woven paper.


    Full Plate 224.


    Inscribed l.l. 'Tombs of the Khalifs, Cairo', l.r. 'David Roberts R.A., L Haghe Lit', 53 x 35.5 cm (picture size), framed.


    Condition report: excellent condition. There is a small diagonol mark in the sky to the left of the minaret of the mosque, this is purely from the hand-colouring. The frame also has a few scuffs to its sides but these are not very noticeable.




    (1) Fabio Bourbon (ed). Yesterday and Today: Egypt. Swan Hill Press: London, 1996, p.241. Translated by A.B.A., Milano. 

    (2) Ibid.

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