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Plate 98 The Theatre, Petra - After David Roberts
  • Plate 98 The Theatre, Petra - After David Roberts

    This magnificent depiction of the entrance to Petra with its theatre visible to the right was painted by Roberts on the 6th March 1839. Writing in his journal, the artist noted 'to-day we encamped in the centre of the remains of this extraordinary city, which is situated in the midst of mountains, surrounded by the desert, but abounding in every vegetable production.' [1]


    'The place where Petra stands is shaped like an amphitheatre closed in by sheer cliffs, measuring roughly two-thirds of a mile from east to west and a third of a mile from north to south. The bed of a stream runs through the place and, with its tributaries, marks a lowe ridge upon which the proper city once stood. The cliffs that surrounded it, and which in certain points stand over nine hundred eighty feet tall, were used as a medium in which to cut both tombs and habitations. Atop the surrounding peaks were located a number of places of worship and small forts that surveyed the roads leading into the town. The cavea of the theatre, which can be seen in the foreground in the illustration, could hold as many as three thousand spectators and was entirely cut out of the side of the mountain.' [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.


    Full Plate 98.


    Inscribed l.r. 'Entrance to Petra march 6th 1839' and l.r. 'David Roberts R.A.', 49.4 x 31.7cm (lithograph size), mounted.




    [1] David Roberts' Egyptian and Holy Land Journal, 6th March 1839.


    [2] Fabio Bourbon (ed). Yesterday and Today: The Holy Land. Swan Hill Press: London, 1997, p.70. Translated by Antony Shugaar.


    Condition report: a very good example and in good condition. There is a small bit of foxing on the lithograph, this is particularly obvious along the bottom of the picture. There is also a small white mark on the cliff face on the right. Please see photographs.

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