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Picturesque Palestine, Sinai and Egypt (Hardback)

Artworks and Letters of John Douglas Woodward, 1878–1879

Hobbies & Lifestyle > Art > Art History

Imprint: George F. Thompson
Pages: 192
Illustrations: 112 color and 23 black-and-white illustrations
ISBN: 9781938086533
Published: 10th April 2024



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This book is a beautiful and engaging presentation of drawings and letters by John Douglas Woodward, (1846–1924), a prominent American artist/illustrator during the 1870s and 1880s. He was on assignment for New York publisher D. Appleton and Co. to make on-the-spot drawings for illustrations for Picturesque Palestine, Sinai and Egypt (1881–1883), which has been called the most important book of illustrations of the region of its time. Some 200 of his compositions appeared in the book as wood engravings, the least expensive mass media of the time, while he contributed the art for 13 steel engravings. Woodward traveled with the somewhat older and better-known artist, Harry Fenn, who was the lead artist for the very successful Picturesque America, published by D. Appleton in parts from 1872–1874. Woodward was the second most prolific contributor to Picturesque America and, like Fenn, also travelled and drew for Picturesque Europe (1878–1879).

Woodward’s travels for Picturesque Palestine yielded a treasure trove of unique historical art and correspondence. Most drawings for book and magazine illustrations during this period were discarded by the artist after the printing plates were made. But Woodward saved his, providing a visual record, often in full color, of the region, in addition to the black-and-white illustrations in the book. In presenting them alongside his lively, engaging letters, this book will appeal to those interested in the history and art of the Middle East as well as in the appearance of places of importance mentioned in the Holy Bible and the specifics of travel to the region during the 1870s, when there was almost no tourist infrastructure and limited knowledge of other cultures.

Although Picturesque Palestine is well-known to scholars and connoisseurs and available in some libraries and on-line, Woodward’s drawings and letters recording his trip to Palestine are not. The exquisite drawings, rendered in pencil, watercolor, and gouache, belong to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and have been stored since 1941 at Shrine Mont, a conference center in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley (founded by the artist’s nephew). The letters to his wife and mother are in the collection of the Valentine History Museum in Richmond.

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