domingo, 23 de septiembre de 2018

KARNAK ▲ Christa Zaat

Christa Zaat

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David Roberts (British painter) 1796 - 1864
The Great Hall at Karnak, Thebes, Egypt, 1838
watercolour over pencil, heightened with bodycolour
47.5 x 32.5 cm. (18.7 x 12.8 in.)
signed lower right: David Roberts. R.A., inscribed lower right: Thebes / Great Hall at Karnak Nov. 28th 1838
private collection

Catalogue Note Sotheby's
This large drawing was made on the 28th November, during Roberts’ journey up the Nile between the 6th October and the 21st December 1838. Although other Europeans had explored the interior of Egypt before him, Roberts was the first British professional artist to make the journey up the Nile. He explored Karnak twice during this voyage, once on the 23rd October and again between the 26th and 31st November. He enthused in his journal ‘What shall I say of Carnac [sic]? Its grandeur cannot be imagined, were I to write what I think it would be merely rhapsody’.1 He continued, advising that in order to gain a true impression of their grandeur ‘you must be under them [the columns] and look up and walk round them.’2

Other drawings by Roberts of the Hypostyle Hall at Karnac are held at the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, the Manchester City Art Gallery and the Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield.3 The present drawing was lithographed for Roberts’ The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia in 1846. We are grateful to Briony Llewellyn for her help when cataloguing this work.

1. H. Guiterman and B. Llewellyn, David Roberts, London 1987, p. 114
2. Ibid, p. 77
3. Karnac - View looking across the Hall of Columns (Yale Center for British Art B1915.4.1579); The Temple, Karnak - Oblique View of The Hall of Columns (Manchester City Art Gallery - 1966.267); Karnac, Hall of Columns - The Dromos, or First Court of the Temple of Karnac (Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield - 2239)

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David Roberts was one of a number of artists who specialised in foreign views and became popular in the 1820s and the 1830s. He moved to London in 1822 and, within 8 years, had risen to become President of the Society of British Artists. Two years later he spent nearly a year in Spain and later visited Egypt, The Holy Land and Syria during 1838-1839. In 1851 and 1853 he went to Italy. Many of the highly finished and richly coloured watercolours he made on these journeys were executed to be reproduced in lavish illustrated books in the form of colour lithographs. There was a vogue in Britain at the time for such publications, especially because they provided views of exotic and faraway places to satisfy a middle-class public which could afford to buy them. Roberts made a highly successful living from the wide sales these books achieved.
He was especially skilled in the refined and precise rendering of architectural detail but he also excelled in the depiction of life and character. His best work is full of the atmosphere of the country and in this lies his enduring appeal.

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