ROBERTS, David (1796-1864). The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia ... with historical descriptions by the Revd. George Croly; [with:] – Egypt and Nubia from drawings made on the spot ... with historical descriptions by William Brockedon. London: F.G. Moon, 1842-1849.

David Roberts' own copy of his greatest work, the first edition of the artist's monumental depictions of the Middle East. A complete set of the rare tinted proofs before titles issue, and contained in its contemporary cabinet.

Inspired by his love of artistic adventure Roberts departed for Alexandria in August 1839. For the rest of that year he visited Cairo and the neighbouring sites. In February 1840, set out across the Sinai for Palestine by way of Suez, Mount Sinai and Petra, arriving in Gaza, and then concluding his tour in Jerusalem. The publisher, F.G. Moon, paid Roberts £3,000 for the copyright of his sketches, and for his labour in supervising Louis Haghe's masterly lithography. One of only four copies of the intermediate issue with tinted proof plates to have appeared on the market: in this issue the plates are tinted, printed with imprints but without titles, and are all presented on separate leaves (with the text that is usually printed beneath the half-page plates printed on a separate leaf.) According to Abbey (who quotes from Moon's prospectus of 1840), the work was originally issued in 41 parts over seven years in 3 states: 'prints Tinted in Paper Parts' (at 1 guinea per part); 'Proofs Tinted in thin Cloth Cases' (as here, for £1. 11s. 6d. per part) and 'Coloured and Mounted, in thin Cloth Cases' (for 2 guineas each). The 'tinted proof' sets evidently proved to be very much less popular than either the ordinary tinted copies or the deluxe hand-coloured sets. We can only identify three other 'tinted proof' sets selling at auction in the past 40 years: Sotheby's 15 April 1988, lot 231, Sotheby's 23 March 1999, lot 225, and Doyle, 23 April, 2013, lot 87 (ABPC/RBH).

When Roberts died suddenly on 25 November 1864, Christie's first auctioned his pictures, and then followed with the sale of his 'valuable library' on 20 May 1865. The present set was lot 238, 'half bound morocco extra, gilt edges'. The set also includes a 1p. ALS to 'My dear Roberts' from Sir Charles Locke Eastlake (1793-1865), who had been elected president of the Royal Academy in 1850, 'I return with many thanks your Holy Land - a beautiful & admirably executed work. I found one or two pages loose, but I return it exactly in the state in which I received it.' The cabinet which houses the volumes is not mentioned in the Christie's cataloguing of 1865, but it is certainly contemporary with that time, and is bespoke for the book. Perhaps Bernard Quaritch, who bought the lot for £30/10s, had a cabinet made for it. Cf. Abbey Travel 272 and 385; cf. Tooley 401-2; cf. Blackmer 1432.

6 volumes in four, bound from the 41 original parts, large folio (597 x 425mm). Mounted on guards throughout. Lithographic portrait of Roberts by C. Baugniet on india paper mounted on card, 4 pp. list of subscribers, 2 engraved maps, 6 tinted lithographic titles with vignette illustrations and 241 fine proof plates lithographed by Louis Haghe after David Roberts, the plates all printed without titles beneath the images, and the half-page plates with the relevant text printed on the following page (marginal spotting or old dampstaining to about half of the plates, and four of the titles, heavier and touching the image area of about 15 plates). Contemporary olive half morocco over marbled paper-covered boards, spine in seven compartments with raised bands, lettered in gilt in the second and third, the other compartments with repeat decoration panelling in gilt and blind, marbled endpapers, front pastedowns in each volume with a purple cloth panel (blocked in gilt) from the upper covers of the original 'cloth cases' used for the original parts, g.e. (occasional light scuffing or small tears to extremities, three front free endpapers almost detached), contemporary oak cabinet, modern glass top. Provenance: David Roberts (calling card mounted on each paste down, als from C.L. Eastlake to Roberts [dated 29 December 1851] loosely inserted); Christie's (sale May 20 1865, lot 238 sold to Bernard Quaritch for £30/10s).
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