Sotheby’s To Sell Lawrence of Arabia’s Map of Arabia

A drawing with a unique historical heritage is coming up to auction this fall. On November 4 in London, Sotheby’s will offer the hand-drawn and annotated map showing the route that Thomas Edward Lawrence—better known as Lawrence of Arabia—took on his way through the desert of Saudi Arabia in the spring of 1917 amid the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire. The detailed sketch is the headlining lot of Sotheby’s “Travel, Atlases, Maps, and Natural History” auction, and has been pegged with a pre-sale estimate of £70,000–100,000 (or about $113,600–162,000).

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Hand-drawn map by T.E Lawrence titled Hejaz Railway to Wadi Sirhan.
Photo: Sotheby’s.

The route recorded on Lawrence’s map reflects his march in May, 1917, from the port city of al Wejh on the Red Sea toward Aqaba, where the Welsh-born archaeologist-turned-soldier led Arab fighters against Turkish troops, taking the city on July 6.

The well-preserved map has a stellar provenance. It comes from the collection of the Royal Society of Asian Affairs, which received it as a gift from Douglas Carruthers, a cartographer who met Lawrence close to the end of the Arab Revolt. Sometime between 1918 and 1922, the soldier drew the map for Carruthers, who held onto it until 1962, when he donated it to the Royal Society of Asian Affairs. It was recently featured in exhibitions at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra and London’s Imperial War Museum.


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