David Roberts, R.A. (1796-1864)

The Lower Pool of Siloam, Valley of Jehoshaphat

David Roberts, R.A., Jerusalem
framed work

David Roberts was one of the first professional British artists to travel to the Near East in 1838. He arrived in Jerusalem at Easter 1839, having travelled from Egypt via Sinai and Petra; later he continued north to Lebanon and departed from Beirut in May.
Roberts was fortunate to ingratiate himself with the local Turkish governor in Jerusalem, who allowed the artist to sketch all the sights he wished around the city as well as Bethany, Jericho, and Bethlehem.

The pool of Siloam is a rock-cut pool on the southern slope of the City of David, the original site of Jerusalem, to the south of the city walls of Jerusalem. In this work Roberts has drawn a number of the ancient tombs which are cut into the rocks and thought to be the burial sites of the highest-ranking officials of the Judaean Kingdom.

Roberts’s eastern compositions reached a wide audience through 247 lithographs made by Louis Haghe, including the present subject. Originally published in parts, these were later bound into six volumes as The Holy Land, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia (1842-9). Their enormous popularity reflected the contemporary appetite for material relating to the Orient.


Signed, inscribed and dated c.l.: Jerusalem. april 11 1839/David Roberts, watercolour over pencil heightened with touches of white

23.9 x 31.1 cm; 9 3/8 x 12 1/4 inches


Probably Francis, 1st Earl of Ellesmere (1800-1857);

Probably Dowager Countess of Ellesmere, 1857;

Probably the Ellesmere sale, Christie’s, London 2 April, 1870, lot 22;

Probably Mackay (purchased at the above sale);

John Gordon of Cluny;

Christie’s, London, 17 June 1969, lot 166;

Spink, London (purchased at the above sale);

Christie’s, London, 2 March 1976, lot 163;

Purchased from the above by a private collector, until 2019


by Louis Haghe for The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Egypt and Nubia, London 1842, vol. I, pl. 23 (with the above title) and 1855, vol. I., pl. 23 (as Lower Pool of Siloam)