Coloured images  1 December 2008

Palestine photographed by the American Colony Photographers, 1898-1931

From 22 December 2008 to 22 February 2009, the Jewish Historical Museum will present the evocative exhibition Coloured images. Unique, hand-tinted lantern slides from the American Colony (a religious community founded by American Christians) project an image of the 'Holy Land' that is literally and figuratively coloured; literally in that they were tinted by hand, and figuratively in that they present a romanticized image.

In 1926 and 1931 the grain dealer Arie Speelman (1880-1964) and his wife Anne Christine Speelman-van Vliet (1886-1967) took two trips to Palestine, where they bought more than a thousand hand-tinted lantern slides at a photo shop run by the American Colony. The slides are examples of a very special photographic technique, in which a negative is printed on a glass plate and then skilfully hand-tinted, often with hair's-breadth precision. A second plate of glass is then placed on top, creating a slide for use in a magic lantern.

The exhibition features a selection of about fifty slides from the Jewish Historical Museum's exceptional collection. The photos give a fascinating impression of late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Palestine, showing not only the cities of Jerusalem and Jaffa, cityscapes, landscapes, and the area's diverse ethnic groups, but also the city of Tel Aviv as it appeared exactly 100 years ago.

The exhibition marks the publication of the book In the Footsteps of Abraham: The Holy Land in Hand-Painted Photographs, by Richard Hardiman and Helen Speelman, a granddaughter of Arie Speelman who lives in Israel. The book is available at the Jewish Historical Museum shop for the special price of €34.95.

Click here for more information about the exhibition.

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