Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Journey to the Holy Land

I've just read a copy of 'A Journey to the Holy Land'. (An artist's diary by Margaret W. Tarrant), which I purchased from Amazon for 1p!
This is a 24 page shortened version of her own diary, which she called 'With a Sketchbook in Palestine'. It's a lovely little book illustrated with some very nice watercolours and pencil sketches which she made during a six week visit to the Holy Land in 1936. The book reads more like a travelogue, and accurately chronicles life in the Holy land during the 1930's. For this reason, it's not as interesting to the Bible illustrator as Elsie Anna Wood's 'A Gift Returned with Love' whose observations related more to Biblical times.

MWT made some very useful detailed sketches of traditional costume, architectural features, landscapes and of course the local people busy about their various occupations, which she later referred to when completing her Bible pictures.
MWT didn't just stay in the popular tourist areas of Jerusalem and Nazareth; she was able to travel into the surrounding villages and observe life in these much poorer communities. The buildings here were, no doubt, more like those of Bible times.

From reading her diary, I got the impression that MWT, like William Hole, was so impressed by what she saw of Israel in 1936, that she felt no real need to change or adapt these scenes for her Bible pictures. She comments "There were thousands of people who looked as if they had stepped straight out of Bible stories!" EAW, on the other hand, discerned that much had changed in the Holy Land, and she strived to record only what she saw to be biblically accurate. Having said that, you will not be disappointed if you purchase this little book. The pictures are beautiful!

I chose to add this particular picture (left) because of the black cat sat on the roof!
We were looking at MWT's use of animals in the last post. On the back cover of this book there's an old photo of MWT with a large black cat draped over her shoulder. This begs the question "was the cat in this picture actually there on the roof of that Jerusalem wash house?" Or did MWT add her own cat into the picture?

In March of last year, MWT's original sketchbook entitled 'Palestine 1936' sold at auction
for £550. It contained seventy two pages of her pencil sketches. What a bargain! If you're looking for a bargain, you can still grab a copy of 'A Journey to the Holy Land' for 1p on Amazon! You'll have to be quick though!

Pictures © The Medici Society Ltd 2008

Related posts:
Bible Animals
Elsie Anna Wood