Moritz Oppenheim - Sabbath Eve
Eve , 1867 Oil
of Sarah and Julian House, Phoenix, AZ.
the Exhibition Moritz Daniel Oppenheim: Jewish Identity in Nineteenth
YU Museum, Jan. 31 - August 31, 2001
painting is an example of a grisaille, or gray monochrome painting.
Oppenheim painted versions
of his color scenes as grisailles in order to reproduce the Scenes
from Traditional Jewish Family Life as lithographs for a printed picture
in this painting blesses his children in an unusual manner
usually both hands were placed on a child's head during a blessing. The
probable source for the painting's scene may be found in an 1846 story
by Leopold Kompert. The story describes a scene where both children rush
at their father as he returns from synagogue, each competing to receive
the first blessing. The father resolves the problem by extending one hand
to each child and blessing them together.
Sabbath dinner, a Polish guest is present standing on the right side of
the room wearing a shtreimel (broad-brimmed fur hat). Oppenheim
depicted the figure of the Polish guest in many of his paintings. At a
time of cultural and social conflict between emancipated German Jews and
Oppenheim's guest was portrayed being welcomed into family gatherings with
honor and respect. The image of the welcome guest signified the need for
German Jews to be accepting of their less worldly kin, and highlighted the
religious practices and language that both groups held in common.
As Oppenheim's audience examined this painting, it would have perceived
an anachronism in the family's dress for example,
the father's three-cornered hat, knickers, and buckled shoes. The old-fashioned
clothing was used to create a romantic feel in his paintings. It was borrowed
from the late Rococo fashions of the end of the 18th century, a time, incidentally,
that Oppenheim himself had not experienced first hand.
Ismar. "Art as Social History: Oppenheim and the German Jewish Vision
of Emancipation." In Moritz Oppenheim. Catalog of an exhibition
at the Israel Museum, fall, 1993. Copyright ? 1983 The Israel Museum (Jerusalem:
Ben-Zvi Printing Enterprises, Ltd.). P. 58. [back]
p. 46. [back]