Click main image below to view enlargements and captions.

View, Middle East, Holy Land, Balbec, David Roberts, Antique Print, 1840s


David Roberts (1796-1864) (after)
Louis Haghe (1806-1885) (lithographer)
from The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia
F. G. Moon, London: 1842-49
Hand-colored lithographs
13.5 x 19.75 inches image, average approximate
17 x 24 inches overall, average approximate

To see other David Roberts Holy Land prints on our site, search our site.

A mid 19th century view of the city of Balbec from The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia, British artist David Robert’s monumental series of views of ancient sites in current day Israel, Egypt, and other parts of the Middle East. This print illustrates the gleaming ruins of Balbec in Syria; a few men in robes and turbans give a sense of scale to the immense wall and columns. Balbec (also spelled Baalbec) is a ruined city located 43 miles northwest of Damascus. The Greek named the city Heliopolis, “City of the Sun,” because of the famous ruins of the temple of the sun. Balbec’s other ancient remains include two other temples, columns, altars, and the vestiges of the city walls. Roberts visited Balbec May 2-8, 1839.

Roberts’ magnificent series of lithographs of the Middle East were printed in creamy earth tones, some issued tinted and others issued colored. This particular example of the view of Jerusalem has fine full hand color, from the first edition. Roberts also produced a scarce deluxe edition of the work, generally referred to as the “subscribers’ edition.” In that edition, the image is trimmed to the edge of the image and mounted on card as issued. The subscribers edition was published concurrently with the standard first edition at roughly twice the price; it wasn’t strictly limited to subscribers, but there were far fewer examples issued.

Product description continues below.


David Roberts was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. He began his career as a house painter and by 1816 was painting stage scenery for the theatre. In 1820 he met Clarkson Stanfield, who encouraged him as an artist, and in 1821 he moved to London, where he worked with Stanfield on sets at the Drury Lane Theatre. Roberts exhibited at the first show held by the Society of British Artists, and was able to become a full-time fine art painter in 1830. During the early 1830s he began to produce the sketches of foreign lands that were to make him famous, beginning with Spain. In 1838 and 1839 he undertook an extensive and adventurous journey to Alexandria, Cairo, and other places in the Middle East, making extensive sketches. He recorded broad vistas of the ancient world with local inhabitants, as well as detailed studies of classical architectural ruins. In the 1840s, over a period of seven years, lithographs of his sketches of the Middle East, together with text, were published in 41 parts in The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia. According to J.R. Abbey, this work forms “one of the most important and elaborate ventures in nineteenth-century publishing, and … the apotheosis of the tinted lithograph.” Roberts also produced an illustrated work on Italy in the 1850s. His paintings are in many museum collections, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Louis Haghe was a Belgian-born painter, watercolorist and lithographer, who spent his career in England after arriving in London in 1823. In 1830, he and his partner William Day formed the successful lithography firm of Day & Haghe, where they were known for their advanced work in color lithography. In 1838 they were appointed lithographers to Queen Victoria. Haghe was also one of the founders of the New Society of Painters in Water-Colours and served several years as president. As a watercolorist, his principal subjects were rural landscapes and villages in the North of France and the Low Countries.His major works also include three volumes of lithographs based on sketches of Germany and Belgium, published in London between 1840 and 1850. During his long career he frequently exhibited his works in Paris and London. Today his watercolors are in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the art museums of Brussels, Leicester, Manchester and other cities.

Full publication information: “Pub’d by F.G. Moon, 20 Threadneedle St., Aug’t 1st 1843.”

Condition: Generally very good, recently professionally cleaned and deacidified, with only light remaining toning and wear, noting  also a very faint line from former matting, can be re-matted out.


Abbey, J.R. Travel in Aquatint and Lithograph 1770-1860. San Francisco: Alan Wofsy Fine Arts, 1991 (reprint of 1957 edition). 272, 385.

Bénézit, E.Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs. France: Librairie Gründ, 1966. Vol. 4, p. 551.

“David Roberts.”The Grove Dictionary of Art.New York: Macmillan. 2000. (31 March 2003).

David Roberts’ Egypt and the Holy Land. London: The Schuster Gallery, 1987. Item 149.

“Lot 234, Important British Drawings, Watercolours and Portrait Miniatures.” Sotheby’s. 2006. (29 September 2020).

Sim, Katharine. David Roberts R.A. 1796-1864, A Biography. London: Quartet, 1984.

Additional information


19th Century