Biblical Archaeology Review 36:2, March/April 2010

Past Perfect: An Artist’s Impression of Turkish Jerusalem

Biblical Archaeology Review

Emelene Abbey Dunn (1859–1929) was an American landscape painter and art teacher. After graduating from the Free Academy in Rochester, New York, Dunn studied under the artists Caliere Corcos and Longworth Powers in Florence, Italy, and later Monsier Dube in Paris. Upon returning to the United States, she became a leader in the development of arts education programs nationwide. For 20 years, Dunn managed the Normal Art School in New York, an academy for training art teachers. During World War I, she devoted herself to Red Cross efforts in comforting Allied soldiers. During this period she developed health problems that forced her to return to Rochester, where she died in 1929.

Following is an excerpt from Dunn’s Mediterranean Picture Lands (1929), a collection of her landscape paintings and notes from her travels in the Near East in 1903, describing her impressions on entering Ottoman-controlled Jerusalem.

In entering Jerusalem by the Jaffa Gate one feels like the Crusaders who cried, “The Saracens are in the Holy City, let us be about its rescue!”

Latent sparks of missionary spirit become flames of desire which are, nevertheless, soon quenched by the hopelessness of the situation. At the Gate of David, the Turk sits in the seat of custom and exacts for the Sultan a percentage of all foodstuffs carried by poor farmers and shepherds into the City of David. The father of the family from the barren hill farm must produce a coin for the collector before he may pass into the market city with his pitiable basket of eggs or his half dozen of melons.

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