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Plate 82 Circular Temple, Baalbec - After David Roberts RA
  • Plate 82 Circular Temple, Baalbec - After David Roberts RA

    'This illustration portrays one of the architectural wonders of the ancient world: the Temple of Venus. Located near the great temple along the decuman - the principal road of the city - the temple is a small circular and peripteral building with six smooth Corinthian columns, set on a tall podium, and connected to the cella by five indented arcs of a circle. Before the cella, with an interior diameter of just under thirty feet, stands a tetrastile pronaos and a stairway of about twenty steps. Externally, the wall of the cella presents four niches, doubled on the inside and on two superimposed orders. The entire, remarkably elegant structure was probably covered by a small cupola. This little temple, dedicated to Tyche or to Venus Atargatis, was lavishly decorated with high-relief friezes and statues. Of those, only the bases in the niches still survive.' [1]


    Roberts dated this drawing the 5th May 1839 and wrote about the eventful day he had experienced in his journal. The artist noted 'this morning I was informed by my servant that my mules had been seized by the govenrment to carry corn for the troops. I lost no time in waiting on the governor, whom I found seated in his divan, surrounded by one of hte most picturesque groups I have ever seen. I was placed on his left hand; my servant filled my chabouk, and coffee was served round, after which I produced my firman. To my surprise no one could read it, as it was in the Turkish language. The signature of Abbas Pasha was recognised, and the governor apologised for our mules having been carried off, and gave orders for them immediately to be returned. I told him I was desirous to visit Damascus, from which I was within two days' journey, when he kindly offered to send a guard with me, and gave me a letter to the governor.' [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.


    Half Plate 82.


    Inscribed l.l. 'Temple at Baalbec may 5th 1839' and l.r. 'David Roberts R.A.', 22.8 x 31.7cm, mounted.




    [1] Fabio Bourbon (ed). Yesterday and Today: The Holy Land. Swan Hill Press: London, 1997, p.266. Translated by Antony Shugaar.


    [2] David Roberts' Journal, 5th May 1839.


    Condition report: a few small markings on the lithograph as shown by the photographs. A slightly larger mark towards the top right-hand corner.

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