web analytics
October 26, 2014 / 2 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » Sections » Arts »

Jewish Women and Chanukah at Sotheby’s

McBee-120911-FrontPg

That the role of Jewish women in the 18th century was prized is further evidenced by a Blessing Sheet (Lot 95) written to accompany an Esther scroll in 1770 Rome.  Since rabbinic opinion is divided as to whether blessings can be written on the megillah itself, the custom was to write and decorate a separate Blessing Sheet.  This example features three archways, two containing the blessings before and after the megillah reading and the third a liturgical hymn, Korei Megillah, traditionally recited by the Jews of Italy.  The central image is surrounded by delicate wreaths of roses that frame the author’s inscription that this was “written by Camilla, daughter of Moses Ephraim Miele-Rossi” in 1770.  The catalogue tells us “It is the only known example of an Esther scroll blessing sheet written by a woman in the pre-modern period.”  One wonders if Camillia also executed the illumination.  Or perhaps we have to be content with her simple skill as a sofer.

The Newlywed (n.d.) oil on cradled panel by Isidor Kaufmann Courtesy Sotheby’s New York Lot 55

Isidor Kaufmann’s (1853 – 1921) (Lot 55) stunning “The Newlywed” was last seen at a Sotheby’s sale in December 19, 2007.  It is notable for its loving detail, especially considering its diminutive size, 13 3/8 x 10 ½.  While the catalogue states “women are infrequent subjects in Kaufmann’s religious Jewish paintings,” nonetheless his treatment always delves into a significant aspect of Jewish life from a woman’s perspective.  Considering Kaufmann’s non-religious background, his role as an ethnographer in carefully documenting the dress and customs of Eastern European Jews is remarkable.  Since the fur trimmed shawl, earrings and pearl necklace appear in other of his paintings, it is likely that this is not an actual portrait, but rather a genre painting done for a customer or on speculation for the healthy market for Jewish genre paintings.  As has been conjectured in other of his works, the model may have been a member of his own family. That said the depth of psychological insight is especially sensitive and impressively modern.  This young woman has just confronted one of life’s most serious events: marriage.  Her life suddenly stretches out before her with all the possibilities of happiness, struggle and tragedy.  In her steady, serious gaze she confronts us with this realization and draws us into her dawning consciousness.  As we become locked into her interior world we cannot but help ponder that Kaufmann’s home and studio was located in Freud’s Vienna.

The Betrothal (1862) oil on canvas by Morris Daniel Oppenheim Courtesy Sotheby’s New York Lot 56

The momentous decision involved in marriage is likewise explored by a profoundly different kind of artist.  Moritz Daniel Oppenheim (1800 – 1882) was rooted in the sentimentality of 19th century academic painting.  As the first professional Jewish artist of the modern era he was a wildly successful master of Jewish genre painting, specializing in depicting a world long gone, the 18th century life of German Jewry. The Betrothal (1862) (Lot 56) at first glance seems to depict simply a hopeful suitor discussing marriage with the father of his bride to be.  He leans forward with sincerity while the father listens thoughtfully as his daughter glances at her beau.  All quite sweet and superficial.  But Oppenheim has more on his mind. Soon we notice the mother on the left side of the painting.  Pictorially and literally off to the side in deference to an ultimately male decision, nonetheless her telling glance back to them and her subtle hand gesture reveals a world of women’s wisdom.  She points upward to the true source of all matchmaking, quietly reminding her family Who is really in charge.  Her insight is of course deeply traditional in contrast to Kaufmann’s modern psychological bent.  But what they share is a conviction that, no matter what, a Jewish woman’s voice must be seriously heard.

N.B. I am deeply indebted to the scholarly captions found in the Sotheby’s catalogue for this sale number N08814. The catalogue and notes are available online at sothebys.com with high resolution images.

 

Richard McBee is a painter and writer on Jewish Art. Contact him at rmcbee@nyc.rr.com

About the Author: Richard McBee is a painter and writer on Jewish Art. Contact him at rmcbee@nyc.rr.com


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Jewish Women and Chanukah at Sotheby’s”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Terrorists attack Israeli soldiers with a Molotov cocktail in Arab village near Ramallah.
Palestinian Authority-American Shot Dead while Trying to Kill Jews
Latest Sections Stories
Nimchinsky-102414-Flag

Over the course of the next couple of weeks we were planning our daily schedule by the minute. At any second we would have to change our plans. It was understood by everyone on the bus that this was not the normal agenda for the summer, but we still managed to have a ridiculous amount […]

Schonfeld-logo1

Avromi often put other people’s interests before his own: he would not defend people whom he believed were guilty (even if they were willing to pay him a lot of money).

Kupfer-102414

The Presbyterian Church USA voted to divest from three companies that do business with Israel.

How can I help my wife learn to say “no,” and understand that her first priority must be her husband and family?

My eyes skimmed an article on page 1A. I was flabbergasted. I read the title again. Could it be? It had good news for the Miami Jewish community.

Students in early childhood, elementary, and middle school were treated to an array of hands-on projects to create sukkah decorations such as wind chimes, velvet posters, sand art, paper chains, and more.

It is important for a therapist to focus on a person’s strengths as a way of overcoming his or her difficulties.

Sadly, there are mothers who, due to severe depression are unable or unwilling to prepare nourishing food for their children.

Michal had never been away from home. And now, she was going so far away, for so long – an entire year!

Though if you do have a schach mat, you’ll realize that it cannot actually support the weight of the water.

More Articles from Richard McBee
Jerusalem to Jericho Road: photograph by Chanan Getraide
“Chanan Getraide Photographs”: 2004 exhibition at Hebrew Union College Museum

“We are living in a Golden Age of Jewish Art, but don’t know it.”

McBee-062014-Outside

He refuses to flinch from our painful history, perhaps finding a kind of solace in the consistency of irrational enmity directed against us.

“Vidduy: The Musical” breaks through the formidable barrier of repetitive confession to allow us to begin to understand what is at the heart of this fundamental religious act.

A fascinating glimpse into the rich complexity of medieval Jewish life and its contemporary relevance had intriguingly emerged.

Silverstein’s work has long concerned itself with the intersection between the personal and Jewish Biblical narrative, significantly explored in this column in “Brighton Beach Bible” (July 27, 2009).

Not surprisingly the guardians of synagogue tradition is male dominated in both Moses Abraham, Cantor and Mohel and Synagogue Lamp Lighters.

Neither helpless victims nor able to escape the killer’s clutches, the leaders had to make impossible choices on a daily basis in a never-ending dance with the devil.

Bradford has opted to fully exploit the diverse possibilities of the physical surface by concentrating on the three-dimensional application of paint (impasto) and other material.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/arts/jewish-women-and-chanukah-at-sotheby%e2%80%99s/2011/12/08/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: