An Early Set of the Three Volumes of David Roberts's "Holy Land"
David Roberts. The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia,
Egypt & Nubia. From Drawings Made on the Spot by David Roberts,
R.A. With Historical Descriptions, by the Revd. George
Croly, L.L.D. Lithographed by Louis Haghe. London: F.G. Moon, 1842,
First edition, early issue, of "one of the most important and elaborate ventures of nineteenth-century publishing and...the apotheosis of the tinted lithograph" (Abbey, Travel). Three large folio volumes (25.625 x 16.75 inches; 600 x 427 mm.). The text comprises: Dedication (one leaf, verso blank); List of Subscribers (two leaves); "Notice of Mr. Roberts's Journey in the East" (one leaf); "The Armorial Ensigns of Jerusalem" (one leaf, with description of title-page vignette on the verso); and "Israel" (pages -30). Tinted lithographed portrait of Roberts by C. Baugniet, on India paper mounted, three tinted lithographed titles with vignettes, and 120 tinted lithographed plates, all with guard sheets. Each plate with leaf of descriptive text. Lacking the "Map to Illustrate the Route of David Roberts Esq: RA in the Holy Land, Petrea & Syria" at the end of Volume III. The title-page to Volume III is a duplicate of the Volume II title-page, as issued (the Volume III title-page was issued, with the map, in 1849, the year of completion of the entire work).
In a handsome contemporary binding by J. Adlard (stamp-signed on the verso of the front free endpaper of Volume I) of full green morocco gilt extra. Covers with elaborate gilt decorative border; spines decoratively panelled and lettered in gilt; turn-ins decoratively tooled in gilt; marbled endpapers; all edges gilt. A few tiny nicks to binding edges, otherwise the bindings are in fine condition. Some light, mostly marginal, foxing or spotting (although some plates in Volume II do have considerable faint foxing); very occasional soiling or smudging; small faint dampstain to lower blank corner of one plate in Volume I. A beautiful set of this monumental work.
"Originally published between January 1842 and the end of 1845 in twenty parts, in eighteen wrappers, containing all the plates listed above [in Abbey], but not the map, and not in the same order. There were two title-pages only. Each part was available at £1. 1s. for Prints in Covers (i.e. paper wrappers), at £1. 11s. 6d. for Proofs in Portfolios, and at £2. 2s. Coloured and Mounted as Originals, in Portfolios. Volume I of this version was available half-bound in morocco, g.e., at £12. 5s. for Prints, or at £23. 12s. 6d. for coloured copies, so that in 1846 both volumes of the book in this two-volume form may have been available bound...The two volumes were also evidently put up in boards, since Bohn, 1847, offers in this form a subscriber's copy, uncoloured, at £18. 18s. (It will be noticed that it is stated that the two-volume version of the book was completed by the end of 1845, and was probably available in volume form in 1846, whereas the Volume III title-page above is dated 1849...)" (Abbey, Travel, II, pages 336-337).
In this copy, the title-page to Volume III is lacking (and a duplicate of the title-page to Volume II supplied), as is the map, both of which were issued in 1849, and the plates are in a different order than the copy described in Abbey. Volume I contains plates 1-26 and 89-96; Volume II contains plates 96-106, 84-87, 46-47, 50-51, 48-49, and 52-75; and Volume III contains plates 76-83, 27-44, and 107-124.
Abbey, Travel, 385; Ibrahim-Hilmy, II, pages 176-177; Lipperheide 1540; Martin Hardie, pages 237, 238, 250-252; Tooley 401.
"The actual publishing history of the book is made fairly clear by examination of an uncoloured copy of the work, which, since the plates are unmounted, shows the plate imprints...The British Museum has a copy of the two-volume version of the above work, and the earliest plate imprint in Volume I is May 1 1841, while subsequent imprints are June 1st, and July 1st 1841. There is then a gap until July 1st 1842, followed by other dates, the latest imprint in the volume being January 2nd 1843. The earliest imprint in Volume II is August 18th 1843 and the latest January 1st 1845. The map, and of course the Volume III title-page, are not present" (Abbey, Travel, II, page 338).
"There is a deep and absorbing interest in the subject, for in no other publication have the sites and buildings famous in sacred history and Eastern legend been so vividly represented. It is difficult to speak in sufficiently high terms of the beauty and interest of the varied subjects in this great work. It represents the results of Roberts's travels in the East during the years 1838 and 1839. The extraordinary merit and interest of the drawings which he exhibited on his return created a great sensation. The fidelity of his accurate pencil, his skilful adherence to truth of costume and surroundings, his attention to characteristic effect in architecture and landscape, won immediate recognition and praise. Commissions from royal and other patrons of art crowded upon him for pictures of his Eastern subjects, and a publisher, F. G. Moon, was soon found to undertake their reproduction for wider circulation. The result was the present work with about two hundred and fifty plates, accompanied by an admirable descriptive text by the Rev. Dr. Croly and W. Brockedon. The book was published in parts from 1842 to 1849, and the original cost for subscribers for a coloured copy was close on £150. For the coloured edition the plates were all executed in two tints by Louis Haghe, and were exquisitely coloured by hand in imitation of the original drawings. It should be said that Roberts himself did no drawing on the stone for this book. The lithographs were done entirely from Roberts's drawings by Harding and Haghe, the latter of whom devoted about eight years to the series. The book is really in six volumes. Three dealing with the Holy Land contain one hundred and twenty-two coloured plates, and three of Egypt and Nubia contain one hundred and twenty-three plates. In addition to the coloured plates there are maps and a portrait" (Martin Hardie, pages 251-252).
"Roberts's Holy Land was one of the most important and elaborate ventures of nineteenth-century publishing, and it was the apotheosis of the tinted lithography...Whatever may be thought of the work as a whole...there is pleasure to be had from many of the individual plates, where Haghe's skillful and delicate lithography, and his faithful interpretation of Roberts's draughtsmanship and dramatic sense, combine in what are undoubtedly remarkable examples of tinted lithographic work...[A quotation from John Ruskin's] Praeterita expresses well the qualities which Haghe has successfully transmitted in his lithographs: It had chanced, in the spring of the year , that David Roberts had brought home and exhibited his sketches in Egypt and the Holy Land. They were the first studies ever made conscientiously by an English painter, not to exhibit his own skill, or make capital out of his subjects, but to give true portraiture of scenes of historical and religious interest. They were faithful and laborious beyond any outlines from nature I had ever seen, and I felt also that their severely restricted method was within reach of my own skill, and applicable to my own purposes..." (Abbey, Travel, II, page 341).
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