National Geographic : 1963 Nov
PILGRIMAGE FOR A PAINTING When you see staff artist Robert W. Nicholson's painting of the siege of Jerusalem in next month's NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, you'll find an unusual work of art. His painting started with a trip to the Holy Land. There he interviewed Moslem, Israeli, and Western archeologists. He met with historians who are authorities on the Crusades. He photographed the terrain. He studied maps. He researched architecture, the costumes and warfare of the times, and made dozens of sketches. He even built small-scale models of a javelin-throwing ballista and a rock-slinging mangonel that really work! It is this kind of diligent search for realism by staff members that has gained world renown for the National Geographic Society. And it is one of the reasons members gave 725,000 memberships in the Society to friends as Christmas gifts last year-"gifts that transcend the commonplace." Rope tension, transmitted to the mangonel's throw ing arm, propelled rocks or pots of Greek fire. Wooden spring of ballista snapped forward when released by rope trigger, launching javelin (some times fire-tipped).