Roberts executed this drawing 'on-the-spot' while on one of his exploratory visits around Cairo. Upon his return to London he completed another version, which showed the scene from the same angle but populated with fewer figures. That work (the whereabouts of which is unknown) was lithographed by Louis Haghe and appeared as plate 221 in volume III of the The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia.
Although Roberts titled this subject One of the Tombs of the Khalifs, Cairo
it, in fact,
depicts part of the Tomb of Al-Malik Az-Zahir Sayf ad-Din Barquq (1382-1399 CE), the first Sultan of the Mamluk Burji dynasty. The structure lies on the eastern desert boundary of Cairo and was built between 1400 and 1411 CE. Visible in the foreground is the northern of the twin sabil-kuttabs
and in the background one of the twin domes of the tomb chambers can be seen.
We are very grateful to Briony Llewellyn for her help when cataloguing this lot.