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Plate 53 Wilderness of Engendi, Near Convent of St Saba - After David Roberts
  • Plate 53 Wilderness of Engendi, Near Convent of St Saba - After David Roberts

    Roberts travelled from Jericho on the morning of the 3rd April 1839 and wrote in his journal 'Our route lay along the foot of the mountains, with the sea on our left; and in about three hours we arrived at a fountain of pure water. Beyond this the waters of the Dead Sea flow close to the foot of the mountains, so that we had to clamber on our way up a steep, rugged, and somewhat dangerous path, often closely overhanging the sea. The view from the summit was magnificent. The sea was like a mirror, and reflected the mountains on its still surface without a ripple. Scarcely a word was uttered by our party to break the death-like silence. We descended into Wady En Naar (the valley of fire) through which flows the brook Kedron, and after travelling about two hours reached the convent of St. Saba, situated on the brink of a ravine through which the brook flows, and which is so deep that even at mid-day the sun's rays never find their way down. All the rocks bordering this valley are perforated with cells of anchorites. The convent consists of a cluster of buildings on the face of the rock, and contains several chapels. The brotherhood is of the Greek persuasion, and numbers about thirty-five monks, who dress the same as those of Mount Sinai.' [1]


    Roberts was clearly impressed with the journey from Jericho to the Monastery of St Saba and thought that he could not imagine a more romantic setting. [2] The lithograph is a spectacular landscape with the Dead Sea visible in the background, whose surface glittered like a mirror, and reflected the surrounding hills. The Monastery itself is barely visible within the giant canyon of the Kidron. The group of travellers progressing towards the complex of buildings is likely Roberts' travelling party.


    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 June 1841.


    Medium: Original First Edition Lithograph, with later hand-colouring on thick woven paper.


    Full Plate 53.


    Inscribed l.l. 'Convent of St Saba April 1839', 33 x 49.3cm, mounted.




    [1] David Roberts Journal, 3rd April 1839.


    [2] Fabio Bourbon (ed). Yesterday and Today: The Holy Land. Swan Hill Press: London, 1997, p.148. Translated by Antony Shugaar.


    Condition report: the lithograph is in very good condition for its age. There are few very minor time staining marks including a faint diagonal line on the right hand side. There are a couple of tears below the mount making them not visible, please see photographs.

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