Die Trauung, 1866 (The Wedding)                                 

The Jewish Museum, New York
ift of the Oscar and Regina Gruss Charitable and Education Foundation, Inc.
Photo: John Parnell, New York

Oppenheim painted for an audience of emancipated Jews who were consistently exposed to the religious criticism of Christian compatriots that viewed Jewish religious practice as stilted and legalistic. The Jewish wedding, for example, was seen as a civic event that served to seal a financial agreement, instead of as a full-fledged religious ceremony. Attempting to dispel Christian prejudice and instill pride in his fellow Jews, Oppenheim portrayed Jewish ceremonies such as the wedding in this picture an event of authentic religious feeling and expression.

In this painting, the ceremony takes place in the open air outside the synagogue, indicating a joyful mood surrounding the celebration. At the same time, Oppenheim skillfully conveys the ceremony's solemnity through the bride and groom's sober comportment and the two decanters of wine on the tray at the left. With his draped prayer shawl, the Rabbi is clearly marked as coming from Eastern Europe, and is presiding in accordance with late medieval Ashkenazi practice.[*]

Destineis medium
[view enlargement]

aources * From: Werner, Alfred. "Oppenheim and Kaufmann: Fine Genre Painters." In Families & Feasts: Paintings by Moritz Daniel Oppenheim and Isidor Kaufmann (catalog of an exhibition at Yeshiva University, Museum April 24 - June 19, 1977). Copyright 1977 Yeshiva University, p. 9.



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