London: Day & Son, 1855. First Edition. 6 volumes in 3, measuring 294 x 209 mm. First quarto edition of this illustrated record of the Middle East by the first Westerner permitted to enter the sacred sites. Contemporary full red morocco (by Hayday for Hatchard & Co.), lovely gilt stamping to the boards and spines, all edges gilt. Small morocco bookplates in each volume (Michael Sharpe), and presentation inscription in Volume 1 (dated 1870). Contains 250 hand tinted lithographs that were printed in the first folio edition, including a frontispiece of Roberts, 6 pictorial title pages, and 2 engraved maps. The most famous image of the Great Sphinx from Plate 240 is present and still commonly reproduced commercially. An exceptional set, with only very minor foxing throughout.
“Roberts was the first professional artist to visit the Near East without a patron connection or a connection to a military expedition…Roberts recorded his impressions of landscapes, temples, ruins, and people in three sketchbooks and more than 272 watercolors. These…provided the bases for the 247 lithographs published with text here” (The Met). His artwork became highly influential in Western imaginings of the Middle East and the Holy Land. (Item #2384)