The sketchbook, drawn in with pencil, documents the “journey to the Orient” of the 56-year-old Friedrich Metz, which took him from Egypt to what is now Israel, Syria and Lebanon in March and April 1876. On the same journey, Metz used another sketchbook (Inv. SG 2765) preserved in the Städel Museum, whereby he recorded similar, sometimes identical motifs here and there at the same places, sometimes even days, without any recognisable division of content. He thus drew in the randomly selected book and – as the changing dates reveal – on randomly opened pages.
From the drawings as well as the places and dates of creation regularly noted in both books, it can be reconstructed that Metz was in Cairo in mid-March 1876. He left Egypt a few days later via the port city of Port Said and reached Jaffa, that is now a part of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, by sea. Afterwards, he stayed in Ramla, Jerusalem and Jericho, in the Kidron valley, the Judean desert and at the Dead Sea, then travelled across the Jordan plain, Nablus and Nazareth to the Sea of Galilee, later to Hermon. Finally, in April, Metz drew in Damascus, then visited Baalbek, the Lebanon Mountains and Beirut. In May 1876, he interrupted his homeward journey, which he probably started from Beirut, for a stay of several weeks in Italy (see Inv. SG 2824, Städel Museum).
In both books, the drawings are almost without exception in landscape format, for which Metz usually turned the portrait-format books by 90 degrees to the right. They mainly show depictions of the visited cities, especially Jerusalem, captured from a distance, as well as wide views of river, mountain and coastal landscapes, more rarely streets or buildings, people going about their daily lives or the local flora. Metz gave a rough outline of what he saw ‒ sometimes more detailed but always with brisk strokes ‒, thus documenting the places he visited, especially the biblical ones in the Holy Land, in drawn “travel snapshots”.
For a full sketchbook description, please see “Research”.
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