Louis Haghe, El Khasnè, a lithograph after a watercolour by David Roberts

Published AD 1842

‘The Treasure', a view of Petra

Born in Edinburgh, David Roberts (1796-1864) was first employed as a scenery painter in the theatre. In 1838 he set out for a tour of the Near East in search of exotic subject matter for his topographical watercolours. With the encouragement of Queen Victoria and many other notable sponsors, these compositions were published as lithographs by Louis Haghe (1806-1885) in The Holy Land, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia (1842-49). This ambitious work, with an explanatory text by the Reverend George Croly, had sold over two thousand copies before the publication date. The success was due in part to the fact that these were the first artistic views of the biblical landscape to come out of the Near East since it had become accessible to travellers.

Roberts painted this monument in Petra on 7 March 1839. The site is in the Southern desert of Jordan and was first discovered in modern times by the Swiss explorer Jean-Louis Burckhardt in 1812. In the nineteenth century El Khasnè (The Treasure) was thought to be the treasury of a pharaoh. However it is more likely to have been a royal tomb, perhaps that of the Nabatean king Aretas IV, dating from the first century AD. The original watercolour from which this print is derived is in a private collection.

This is plate 91 from The Holy Land (1842) Vol. III, part of the larger series The Holy Land, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia (1842-49).

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More information


H. Guiterman and B. Llewellyn (ed.), David Roberts (London, Barbican Art Gallery, 1986)

W.D. Davis and others, Jerusalem and the Holy Land re (Durham, North Carolina, Duke University Museum of Art, 1996)


Height: 490.000 mm
Width: 320.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1915-7-6-30



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