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The landscape of belief : encountering the Holy Land in nineteenth-century American art and culture /

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This book tells of the nineteenth-century American painters who, along with photographers, archaeologists, writers, evangelists, and tourists, flocked to the biblical Holy Land, a world of striking landscape vistas that reflected, in their eyes, a powerful image of the United States. Here they saw a metaphor for their country: a New World promised land, a divinely favored Protestant nation created by and for a modern "chosen people." Taking these biblical associations as a starting point, John Davis examines the ways in which nineteenth-century Americans looked to the actual landscape of the Holy Land as an extension of their national identity. Through close readings of panoramas, photographs, and conventional easel paintings, he shows how this "sacred topography" became a place to work out competing ideological debates surrounding American exceptionalism, prophetic millennialism, anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish sentiment, and post-Darwinian science. Drawing on sermons, diaries, travel volumes, and novels, Davis explores the growth of a specific cultural market for landscape imagery of Ottoman Palestine and the manner in which easel painters responded to the popular demand for vernacular representations. Treating little-known painters such as Edward Troy and James Fairman together with major figures including Frederic Church, this volume combines pioneering research and new interpretations.

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