16 February 2008

Rembrandt, Purim and the Jews

The current issue of the online Jewish Magazine offers a two-part treatise on Rembrandt and his students' fascination with the Jewish holiday of Purim. It is well-illustrated with many relevant paintings.

For Sephardic researchers, there are some resources to follow up:

Eric Zafran ("Jan Victors & the Bible," Israel Museum News, 12, 1977) suggested that Jan Victors' unusual restriction to Old Testament subjects might have been to satisfy a specialised Jewish art market, growing ever more confident in 17th century Amsterdam. He traced some of Victors' biblical images to Jewish wills in the 1670's and thought that Esther, Ruth and Hagar stories would have been particularly welcomed by these patrons.

Michael Zell (Reframing Rembrandt: Jews and the Christian Image in c17th Amsterdam, Uni California Press, Berkeley,2002) identified the Sephardi families who owned significant art collections. Salvador Rodrigues and merchant Abraham Abenjacar had Biblical history paintings; physician Salamon Rocamora had several genres; and Manuel Abelais had paintings but no Biblical art. Mosseh Vaz Farroh had a range of top flight Dutch and Flemish paintings, especially portraits.

Read the complete story here.

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