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In 1917 the British Government had declared support for the 'establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people'. Six years later Bomberg, a Jewish artist from the East End of London, was commissioned by a Zionist organisation to paint images of Jewish settlements in Jerusalem. However, Bomberg was not a supporter of Zionism and found the British Government officials in Jerusalem more congenial patrons. The painstakingly detailed depiction of buildings in this painting probably reflects their desire to see a faithful description of the ancient city which they hoped to restore and protect from modernisation.

September 2004