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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 19, 2008 / 18 Menachem-Av 5768

Eye-stopping glimpses of an exotic and forbidden world

By Paul Johnson


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | For anyone interested in fine painting, as distinct from 'great art', there is a treat at the Tate for them: a display of works by British artists, from the 17th to the 20th centuries, who depicted the Orient and those who liked to dress up in Eastern style. Many of the pictures are from private collections, and this is a rare chance to see them; they are often in their original frames, well preserved and of great beauty.


The pellucid waters of this subject were thoroughly stirred and muddied by the polemicist and troublemaker Edward Said, who invented 'Orientalism' as a term of political and racial abuse, and won himself a following in left-wing academia by his misrepresentations, even after he was exposed as a fantasist in a famous article published in Commentary. It was typical of Said that he presented Mansfield Park as a novel about colonialism and the slave trade. So visitors to the show should forget about such nonsense, and allow their own eyes to speak.


The division between East and West, in effect between Europe and Asia, has existed for 4,000 years, and Western intellectuals have attempted to bridge it from Herodotus on. The first significant figure to engage in systematic borrowing from the Levant was the 13th-century Emperor Frederick II, known as Stupor Mundi, and during the Renaissance painters such as the Venetian Gentile Bellini specialised in Eastern images, and a number of rich men and women dressed up in Oriental clothes. There were many more on the Continent than in Britain, and they can be studied in the best book on the subject, L'univers des Orientalistes by Gerard-George Lemaire, an English translation of which was published in Cologne in 2001.


The most fascinating pair of pictures in the Tate show were painted early in the 17th century by an unknown artist. They show Sir Robert Shirley (1581-1628) and his Circassian wife Teresia, who died in 1668. He held the extraordinary post of the Shah of Persia's envoy to all the European courts, which he spent his life visiting. The Pope, Paul V, gave him the rare and valuable privilege of the right to legitimise bastards, important in the inheritance of disputed estates. Of course the Pope's writ did not apply in Protestant Europe, but it was absolute in Latin Christianity, and Shirley must have had a way with him to get the grant. His life was crowded with adventures, and would we had his autobiography. He dressed as a Persian nobleman with a huge turban, and the elaborate embroidery on his silk coat and cloak is rendered with astounding fidelity and skill in the portrait. It is a wonderful piece of work and vaut le voyage.


His wife's portrait is, in one respect, even more remarkable, since it is the first to show a lady holding a pistol. It is true she also holds a watch, and it may be that these objects were put in to illustrate Western technology. But the lady looks as if she was quite capable of shooting, and given the various attempts to poison or assassinate her husband, maybe she needed to be. She survived him by 40 years, living in Rome and becoming a papal groupie, like so many women to this day.


The star of the show is undoubtedly John Frederick Lewis (1805-76), who came from a family of painters, studied under Bonington and Wilkie, and became perhaps the most accomplished of all craftsmen in the mixture of watercolour and gouache he preferred. Like many others, he penetrated the East via Moorish Spain and Morocco, and spent long periods living in Muslim countries. What attracted him and his patrons was the contrast between intense heat outside and cool interiors, whether of bazaars or houses. He specialised in tent and harem scenes, though the beautiful women he portrayed were probably Jewesses, Maronites or Copts rather than Muslims. His rendering of light filtering through slatted blinds and illuminating faces and interiors has never been surpassed, and is a miracle of skill and industry. The show includes his masterpiece 'The Carpet Seller', which may be a self-portrait of him in Egyptian rig and is now in the Blackburn Art Gallery. What a wealth of knowledge a serious art student could acquire by careful study of this work!


For another glimpse of this marvellous artist we must turn to Thackeray's delightful travel book, Notes of a Journey from Cornhill to Grand Cairo (1846), where Lewis's eccentric Oriental lifestyle in the grand Mamluk mansion he rented is described with charm and fun.


There are some fine landscapes in the show, notably by David Roberts, the number two British artist in this genre, but who concentrated, unlike Lewis, on buildings and grand masses, as became his training as a successful scene-painter. But there are some fine Lears, one of them (in a private collection), completely new to me. It shows Petra, painted in that brief period after the late-winter rains when the floor of the normally arid valley becomes a luxurious mass of bright green. It is a masterpiece and belies the conventional wisdom that Lear is never at his best in oils. There are some notable Holman Hunts too, not to everyone's taste, though one should bear in mind that these painstaking works were done in conditions of great discomfort and sometimes of real danger. Personally I am deeply grateful to these gifted and courageous artists who took so much trouble, and so many risks, to give us faithful images of these places in the 19th century.


Although the French had many more artists specialising in the Muslim East at this time, there are none to match the British group in accuracy save Delacroix, and he only in his watercolour sketchbooks, which are outstanding, as opposed to his finished oils done in the studio. The French were much more critical of Muslim ethics than the British were: hence such horrifying and dramatic works as Henri Regnault's 1870 masterpiece, 'Execution Without Hearing under the Moorish Kings', now raising goosepimples in the Musée d'Orsay. The French also liked to emphasise the nakedness and eroticism of the harem, led by Chasseriau, Lecomte du Nouy and, above all, Ingres. His 'Turkish Bath' (Louvre) always makes me laugh, but it is a luscious piece of scabrous nonsense, originally more shocking but cut down from a square to a circle to eliminate naughtier bits. Ingres was a great painter in the sense that he knew how to grab the attention by the power of his images, and hold it by his superb technique.


There was no excuse, other than sales, for such an imaginative presentation of Muslim life. In 1860, for instance, an accurate and matter-of-fact book was published in Europe, written by the widow of a Turkish pasha, and entitled Twenty Years in a Harem. Such a work could not possibly be published today, given the ferocity of our creeping censorship.

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Previously:

06/30/08: How to fill a lecture hall, and how to empty it
06/23/08: Americans should count their blessings
05/20/08: Pajamas for Presidents
05/13/08: Literary woodlice boring needless holes in biographical bedposts
04/01/08: When markets come crashing down, send for the man with the big red nose
04/01/08: Quality for dinner. Pass the Fairy Liquid, Old Boy
03/25/08: In search of an American President with brains and guts
03/18/08: Technological warfare against mice won't work. Try cats
03/11/08: What is a genius? We use the word frequently but surely, to guard its meaning, we should bestow it seldom
03/03/08: Fiction as a crutch to get one through life
02/26/08: Impatience + Greed = Trouble
02/13/08: Shakespeare, Neo-Platonism and Princess Diana
02/07/08: Where Industry Has Failed Us
12/19/07: People who put their trust in human power delude themselves
12/12/07: What is aggression?
12/04/07: Pursuing success is not enough
11/07/07: Are famous writers accident-prone?
10/31/07: Courage needed to disarm Iran
09/20/07: Who Will Say ‘I Promise to Lay Off’?
07/24/07: Greed is safer than power-seeking
04/02/07: Benefactors must be hardheaded
03/07/07: American idealism and realpolitik
11/28/06: Space: Our ticket to survival
10/24/06: Envy is bad economics
10/11/06: Better to Borrow or Lend? Rethinking conventional wisdom
08/22/06: Don't practice legal terrorism
08/08/06: A summer rhapsody for a pedal-bike
08/03/06: Why is there no workable philosophy of music?
07/11/06: Historically speaking, energy crisis is America's opportunity
07/06/06: The misleading dimensions of persons and lives
06/06/06: First editions are not gold
05/23/06: A downright ugly man need never despair of attracting women, even pretty ones
04/25/06: Was Washington right about political parties?
04/12/06: Let's Have More Babies!
04/05/06: For the love of trains
03/29/06: Lincoln and the Compensation Culture
03/22/06: Bottle-beauties and the globalised blond beast
03/15/06: Europe's utopian hangover
03/08/06: Kindly write on only one side of the paper
02/28/06: Creators versus critics
02/21/06: The Rhino Principle

© 2006, Paul Johnson

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