Biblical Archaeology Review 34:2, March/April 2008

Strata: Special Collections

Yeshiva University Museum at the Center for Jewish History New York, New York (212) 294–8330 December 4, 2007–April 6, 2008

This exhibit includes 70 rare 19th-century prints of the Holy Land by Mendel Diness and his teacher James Graham, along with a selection of original artifacts used by the photographers. Organized by the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, and featuring some of the earliest known photographic images of Jerusalem, the exhibition is the result of an unlikely discovery at a garage sale in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1989. This will be the first known exhibition of James Graham’s work since an 1862 exhibition in London.

Graham, a Scottish missionary, was among the first Europeans to travel to the Near East in the 1850s, while it was under Ottoman rule. He documented landscapes, temples, tombs and other historic sites in the region, in photographs of stunning print quality. One of the first photographers to reside in Jerusalem, Graham had a unique photographic vision that stemmed from his intimate knowledge of the city.

His student, Mendel Diness, became an accomplished photographer in his own right. Originally a watchmaker, Diness was the first Jewish photographer in Jerusalem. He later converted to Christianity and eventually settled in the United States, where he became a preacher.

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