This delicately coloured lithograph shows the port of Tyre, in Lebanon, located about 50 miles (80 kilometres) south of Beirut. Tyre juts out from the Mediterranean coast and was once an island city. It was named Tyre (meaning rock) after the rock formation on which it is built.
Artist David Roberts visited Tyre in April 1839 as part of his eleven-month trip to Egypt and the Holy Land. Roberts returned to England with enough drawings to keep him working for ten years. In total, he brought back 272 drawings, three sketch books, several oil studies and a panoramic drawing of Cairo. Using these sketches Roberts prepared fresh drawings for his lithographer, Louis Haghe. In total 247 lithographs were produced by Hague, with the aid of his brother and a few other assistants. These were published as ‘The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia’, usually referred to as ‘Egypt, Syria and The Holy Land’ (1842-49).
The popularity of Roberts’ scenes of the Near East was partly due to their subject matter -unusual at the time - and partly to Roberts' skilful drawing. No publication before ‘The Holy Land…’ had presented so comprehensive a series of views of the monuments, landscapes and people of the Near East.
David Roberts, son of a shoemaker from Stockbridge, Edinburgh, began his career at the age of ten as an apprentice to a house painter. On completing his apprenticeship he was employed on the decoration of Scone Palace in Perthshire. He later became a scene painter for James Bannister, who ran a circus in Edinburgh, and at the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh, before moving to London in 1822, where he turned to easel painting. Roberts exhibited at the British Institution, Society of British Artists and Royal Academy. He is best-known for topographical paintings and illustrations resulting from trips to Spain and the Middle East. He died aged 68 at his home in Fitzroy Street, near Tottenham Court Road, London, and is buried at Norwood Cemetery.
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