David Roberts’ most famous work, Views in the Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt, & Nubia, was published by E. G. Moon in London between 1846 and 1849. This work is known for its extremely detailed duotone lithographed plates which depict various scenes of the Holy Land and the Middle East.
Roberts journeyed to the Holy Land in 1838 where he spent much time depicting the architecture, costumes, and landscapes that he found there. The culmination of all his efforts, Views in the Holy Land…, is indeed one of the greatest travel works ever completed. George Croly wrote the wonderfully descriptive text, when available, and Louis Haghe turned Roberts’ drawings into the magnificent lithographs seen here.
David Roberts truly introduced the western world to Egypt and the Middle East through this work. The lithographs were produced from his on-site drawings of temples, landscapes, and historic monuments. He was the first Westerner granted permission to enter many of the sacred mosques or monuments. He completed his sketches over an 11 month journey between 1838 and 1839.
Roberts Holy Land has a worldwide reputation; nothing of a similar character has ever been produced that can bear a comparison with it (Ran, 6) … These prints are of excellence unsurpassed in Europe The firm of Day and Haghe raised lithography to perhaps the highest point it ever attained [In Roberts own words,] Haghe has not only surpassed himself, but all that has hitherto been done of a similar nature. He has rendered the views in a style clear, simple, and unlabored, with a masterly vigor and boldness which none but a painter like him could have transferred to stone. (Abbey, 340-41)