Articles in Category: Jewish Art Before 1945

Jewish Art Before 1945

Early Chagall At Jewish Museum

Written on June 04, 2001

Jew in Bright Red

Chagall in Mother Russia

If you didn't know this was the famous Chagall, and if you didn't know Chagall was going to become perhaps the greatest Jewish painter of the twentieth century; what would you think of the early works of this artist when he lived in Russia as a student and young man? A collection of early work (most never seen before outside of Russia) in "Marc Chagall - Early Works from Russian Collections" currently at the Jewish Museum allows us to examine a small portion of his work and see him in isolation before he became one of the big international names of modern art.

Charlotte Salomon: Life Or Theater?
At The Jewish Museum

Written on February 11, 2001

Bales of Wheat

Charlotte Salomon's Legacy

What would do if you knew there was a play, a play with text and music, that told the story of one whole life. A Jewish life. The story of a young woman, told from before she was was born until her life was about to be taken away by the cruel horror of the Holocaust. Now I warn you, this is a life you might not approve of. Would you be curious?

Moritz Daniel Oppenheim
Retrospective At Yeshiva University Museum

Written on February 04, 2001

Ludwig Borne (1831) by Moritz Oppenheim; Historisches Museum Frankfurt am Main


Many of these paintings I do not like. Some I do. All of them are very important for us to look at and understand since Oppenheim’s work represents the seminal encounter between Jewish tradition and the challenges of the modern world.

This exhibition, Moritz Daniel Oppenheim; Jewish Identity in Nineteenth Century Art, presents over 90 paintings of the first and perhaps most famous Jewish artist of the 19th century. It presents all aspects of his very successful career and for the first time shows his depth and skill as a portraitist and as a genre painter. The exhibition at Yeshiva University Museum on 16th Street is beautifully hung and designed by Oliver Hirsch of Hircsh & Associates Fine Art Services. The show was organized by the Judisches Museum der Stadt Frankfurt am Main under the patronage of the German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder and is accompanied by a definitive catalogue raisonne published by the Frankfurt Jewish Museum. It must be seen by anyone interested in Jewish Art.

Isidor Kaufmann - Shabbos

Written on October 23, 2000

Friday Evening, ca. 1920 Oil on canvas, 28” X 35” Jewish Museum; Gift of Mr. & Mrs. M. R. Schweitzer

We must be very quiet in front of this painting. It exudes a stillness and peace that envelopes us and makes us lower our voices. We whisper, “Shabbos has come!”

And as we stand in the special section of the Jewish Museum’s permanent collection devoted to Shabbos, we can see that this late and unfinished painting by Isidor Kaufmann has a special message for us to take home for Shabbos.

Moritz Daniel Oppenheim
A Painting In Grisaille At The Jewish Museum

Written on August 26, 2000

Paschal Eve (1867) Oil on Canvas by Moritz Daniel Oppenheim Gift of Oscar and Regina Gruss Charitable and Educational Foundation, Inc. Photo John Parnell, New York


This image of the Passover Seder by Moritz Daniel Oppenheim (1800-1882) was found in almost every German Jewish 19th century home as part of the immensely popular graphic albums called “Pictures of Traditional Jewish Family Life”. In a previous Jewish Arts column I discussed the background and historical significance of Oppenheim’s work. Now I would like to look at one of these paintings in detail. The tools of our encounter with a work of art are an analysis of what we are seeing, how has the artist made this image and what meaning is communicated.

Inventing a Past: Moritz Daniel Oppenheim
Pictures Of Traditional Jewish Family Life At The Jewish Museum

Written on August 26, 2000

The Volunteer (Detail) Moritz Daniel Oppenheim

For Moritz Oppenheim (1800 - 1882) the world had changed irreparably since his childhood in Hanau, Germany. He grew up in a devout home in the ghetto, traditionally schooled in heder and Talmud Torah until 1806, when Napoleon’s army came and brought the French Revolution to Germany. The Jews were emancipated and the ghetto gates were torn down. Moritz went to secular school and soon after distinguished himself in the Hanau Drawing Academy. His world expanded beyond the ghetto and he studied art in Frankfurt, Munich, Paris and especially Rome. By 1825 he had returned to Frankfurt to begin a successful career as a painter of Old and New Testament scenes and society portraits. As the first a major Jewish artist of the new enlightened and Romantic age, he achieved a success that for a Jew would have been unthinkable 25 years before. He became known as the painter of the Rothschilds and the portraitist of the Jewish bourgeoisie and settled into an in upper middle class life in Frankfurt.

The Steinberger Succah
At The Museum of Jewish Heritage

Written on July 25, 2000

Text panel and biblical scene; Steinberger Succah; Museum of Jewish Heritage

The Museum of Jewish Heritage, located at the southern edge of Battery Park City in Manhattan, attempts (and largely succeeds) to make sense of the last century of Jewish life. The first floor, “Jewish Life a Century Ago”; presents the diverse and extensive Jewish world in Europe prior to the Holocaust.