Saturday, November 8, 2008

Jamaica: New Book About Jamaican Jewish Artist Isaac Belisario (1794-1849)

Jamaica: New Book About Jamaican Jewish Artist Isaac Belisario (1794-1849)

The following is adapted from a press release about the new book. I know little of the artist - whose life and work certainly sounds interesting - and I do not know the author. But it is good to be identify at least one other Jewish artist from the Caribbean besides Pissarro (and I am sure there were many).


New York, New York (November, 2008) – The Mill Press, a publishing house concentrating in Jamaican heritage, art and culture, is officially launching BELISARIO: Sketches of Character, a historical biography of the Jewish Jamaican artist, Isaac Mendes Belisario, in New York on November 19, 2008. The book, researched and written by Jackie Ranston, was twenty years in the making and acts as a narrative, a biography, a reference book, and a fine art book in one.

A richly illustrated, museum-quality book, BELISARIO: Sketches of Character presents the artist's paintings and lithographs in stunning detail depicting the less celebrated inhabitants of Jamaica and the turbulent times in which Belisario lived and worked.

Based on previously unpublished records, BELISARIO: Sketches of Character reveals new insights on Isaac Mendes Belisario’s life and works. Beginning with the histories of the Sephardic Jewish families from whom Isaac Mendes Belisario (1794-1849) is descended, the book traces the story of Belisario and his ancestors through the Spanish Inquisition, their migration to London and Jamaica, and the fight against slavery, until Belisario produces his pivotal work: Sketches of Character, a series of lithographs depicting the brilliant Christmas masquerades known in Jamaica as ‘Jonkonnu’ (John Canoe).

BELISARIO: Sketches of Character
is available from the publishers for US$120, or a signed and numbered Collector’s Edition of BELISARIO: Sketches of Character for US$200. Visit or email for more information.

ISBN: 978-976-8168-16-0

About the Author

Jackie Ranston is a researcher and writer specializing in Jamaican family histories. Her published works include The Lindo Legacy, They Call Me Teacher, From We Were Boys and First Time Up, all studies of important personages in Jamaican history. Born in London, England, Ranston has resided in Jamaica since 1970 after her marriage to a Jamaican graphic designer and book illustrator. She has worked as an account executive for a major Jamaican public relations firm; was a government chief public relations officer and a consultant editor to The Gleaner, Jamaica’s oldest existing newspaper which first appeared in 1834.

Together with her husband and grown children Ranston runs a publishing company focusing on Early Childhood Education and Jamaica’s cultural heritage.

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