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The Plains of Esdraelon (or Jezreel) extend from the Mediterranean coast to the Jordan river in present day Israel. They are sometimes called the valley of Megiddon, anglicised as ‘Armageddon’, the battlefield in the New Testament where the powers of good and evil fight at the end of the world.Sargent first visited the Holy Land in 1905–6, to make studies which would lend cultural and topographical authenticity to his biblical paintings. However, unlike artists Holman Hunt or James Tissot, his interest was not one of intense religious belief, but a romantic fascination with exotic locations and with ancient customs.

May 2007