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Ascent of the lower range of Sinai February 18th 1839 / David Roberts, R.A.


Ascent of the lower range of Sinai February 18th 1839 / David Roberts, R.A.



Zoom-in painting drawn at the mountain slopes of Gebel Armaziya and Gebel El Sefsafa, looking northwest and showing the northern slopes of Gebel Musa (Biblical Mount Sinai) from right to the centre and the vicinity of Wadi El Dier (Biblical holy Valley) from the centre to left, both in the foreground, the vicinity of Wadi El Sheikh from right to left in the middle, the summit of Gebel El Sana' and the mountain basin of Farsh Oujar in the background from centre-right to centre-left, and the pointed summit of Gebel Abu Nasra in far horizon in the centre, from a 14km distance. (Source: A. Shams, Sinai Peninsula Research, 2018)
Camels replaced feral donkeys in transportation in 2nd millennium BCE, though domesticated donkeys are still used in the High Mountains of Sinai Peninsula. Several Byzantine monastic (4th-7th centuries CE) and later pilgrimage routes lead to the summit of Gebel Musa (Biblical Mount Sinai) from the monastery, including Naqb Armaziya, Siqqat Sydina Musa and Siqqat Abbas Basha. Abbas Helmi I, the Khedive of Egypt (1849-54), visited Sinai Peninsula in 1853-54 CE and paved several paths in the vicinity of Mount Sinai and along the pilgrimage routes in the peninsula. (Source: A. Shams, Sinai Peninsula Research, 2018)
Illus. in: The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia / from drawings made on the spot by David Roberts ... ; lithographed by Louis Haghe. London : F.G. Moon, 1842-1845, v. 3, pts. 19-20, p. 2.
Surrogate reference copy available in: The Holy Land / David Roberts. Tel-Aviv, Israel : Terra Sancta Arts, 1982, v. 5, pl. 111, p. 32-33.
Tooley, no. 113

David Roberts, a Scottish painter, was born in 1796. His father was a poor shoemaker. From an early age, Roberts displayed a distinct artistic talent. Since age 10 he was apprenticed to a house-painter. In 1816, the young David joined a troupe of traveling pantomimists as a theatrical backdrop painter. Eventually, he got a position as a principal painter at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow, following that by employment, in 1820-21, at the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh and in 1823, the Drury Lane Theatre in London. Roberts made trips to Europe, sketching monuments and cathedrals with photographic precision. He turned these sketches into his first real “romantic travel” paintings exhibited and sold at ever-increasing prices. In 1830 he was elected president of the Society of British Artists. In 1832-1837 Roberts visited Burgos, Madrid, Toledo, Segovia, Cordova, Granada, Malaga, Gibraltar, Cadiz and Seville. In 1838 he sailed to Malta, the Greek Cycladian isles, and Egypt. In Cairo, after visiting the Pyramids of Geza, he wrote: “Not much struck with the size of the great one till I began the ascent, which is no joke. The Sphinx pleased me even more than the Pyramids... I cannot express my feelings on seeing these vast monuments.” Roberts left Cairo on 8 February 1839 to begin his trek to Palestine where Roberts drew sketches that would become some of the Holy Land’s most memorable plates. Roberts then went to Petra, that legendary rock-carved city. David Roberts travel lithographs were sketched in 1832-1840 and produced from 1842-49 by London publisher F.G. Moon. Hundreds of prints were made of each drawing from the lithographer’s original stone plate. David Roberts became a member of at least nine societies and academies. Roberts was at work upon a picture of St. Paul’s Cathedral, when he died suddenly at the age of sixty-eight, in 1864.





Haghe, Louis, 1806-1885, lithographer
Roberts, David, 1796-1864, artist




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