Lot 3
  • 3

DAVID ROBERTS, R.A. | Front Elevation of the Great Temple of Aboo-Simbel [Abu Simbel], Nubia

70,000 - 100,000 GBP
87,500 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Roberts
  • Front Elevation of the Great Temple of Aboo-Simbel [Abu Simbel], Nubia
  • inscribed and dated Entrance to the / Great Temple of / EBSAMBEL Nubia Novr 11th 1838 / Front Elevation of the Great Temple of Abissimble. Nubia lower right
  • watercolour over pencil, heightened with bodycolour


Possibly by descent to Henry Sanford Bicknell (1818-1880), the artist's son-in-law
Possibly sale: Christie's, London, 21 May 1881, lot 123 (different measurements cited)
H. Lancaster
Sale: Christie's, London, 3 July 1962, lot 204
Colnaghi, London (purchased at the above sale)
Sir Bruce Ingram (1877-1963)
His executor's sale: Sotheby's, London, 9 December 1964, lot 336
The Fine Art Society, London (purchased at the above sale)
Purchased from the above by the present owner


by Louis Haghe for The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Egypt and Nubia, London 1849, vol. II, pl. 44 (with the above title) & 1856, vol. V, frontispiece 


London, The Fine Art Society, North African Traveller Casablanca to Cairo, 1974, no. 86

Catalogue Note

Roberts reached Abu Simbel on the 8 November 1838. He noted in his journal 'By daybreak I was in the celebrated temple... which has often been described. There are four colossal figures in a sitting posture carved on the face of the rock. This is said to be the oldest of the Egyptian temples. If so, in what a labyrinth does it involve the history of these stupendous edifices! The beauty of the workmanship and colossal dimensions are not surpassed even by those at Thebes' The temple of Rameses II, rediscovered for the West by Jacob Christoph Burckhardt in March 1813, was at the time of Roberts's visit almost completely obscured by sand. It was excavated by Giovanni Belzoni in 1817 but had to be cleared on several occasions during the nineteenth century. In 1964, when the rising waters of Lake Nasser threatened to submerge the temple, the entire complex was moved to higher ground.

We are very grateful to Briony Llewellyn for her help when cataloguing this lot.