Almost from its very inception, the museum and research library at the Tangier American Legation (now TALIM) has received donations-in-kind from art, map, and book collectors, Tangier residents, and artists. Though we are not out looking to acquire more works of art, they somehow find their way to us.
There's something reassuring about art finding its natural home. Michael "Mickey" Raymond's donation of a Maurice Romburg work – "Pig Sticking in the Diplomatic Forest, Tangier," circa 1931, pictured below – is a case in point. Mickey, a longtime Tangier British expat, was a family friend of the subject in the painting, British Minister of Legation Hugh Gurney. Mickey was given the painting by the son of the British diplomat, himself born in Tangier when the pigsticking scene was painted. He felt it should return to Tangier, and now Mickey – who know's we're interested in pigsticking and other Interzone pursuits – has ensured that it will remain here, on display at the Legation.
Similarly, the Raïda family, after the recent death of the last Tangier-based member, was loathe to see the portrait of Marie Carmen Raïda (top of this post) by George Apperley (1952) leave Tangier. Painted by the British artist (who died in Tangier in 1960), it is a wall-sized portrait of a beautiful young woman who met an untimely death. When we were shown the painting, we felt that there was a place for it in the museum. Now people ask if it was specifically commissioned for its place on our walls!
We are particularly excited about Christopher Gibbs' donation of three copper plates (detail, right) by Wenceslas Hollar, the 17th century etcher who chronicled Tangier when it was British, 1661-1684. The Legation already has an extensive collection of Hollar etchings, largely from the earlier legacy of the Donald Angus collection.
Quite apart from their rarity and mint condition, the Hollar copper plates may be the kind of gift that keeps on giving. If we find a means to have prints made, there should be collectors who would happily buy them and help us fund further art preservation projects.
Finally, to show that we continue to show works by contemporary Moroccan artists, we are pleased to have received Elena Prentice's gift of one of Mohamed Raiss El Fenni's "Day Dreamer" series. Raiss El Fenni is a Tangier friend and neighbor, and an accomplished miniaturist with a gallery that he and his American wife Karla own in the kasbah.
And Elena Prentice is an artist in her own right (whose work is also represented at the Legation), and whose connection to this institution deserves a post of its own.
Thanks to our benefactors – those who provide us much-needed funds with a discreet check, as well as those who part with valuable family possessions so that others can appreciate these works of art.
Photos by Mohammed Jadidi, TALIM.