A Selection of Works Painting - Sculpture
Portrait of the Chief Rabbi David Sintzheim
early 19th century
Oil on canvas
32,5 x 24 cm
Photo Gilles Berizzi. Réunion des Musées Nationaux, Paris
David Sintzheim was born in Trier in 1745. Trained by his father, a rabbi at Niedernai, he was a learned Talmud scholar. In 1786, he took over the directorship of the Yeshivah founded by his brother-in-law, Cerf Beer, at Bischheim, before being appointed rabbi in Strasbourg, in 1792.
The political condition of the Jews was central to his concerns: he attended the National Constitutive Assembly in August 1789 as the Alsace delegate in order to demand the emancipation of the Jews of eastern France. He requested the protection of the National Assembly and protested against the acts of violence perpetrated in July 1789 in Alsace and Lorraine.
His reputation as a scholar and man of commitment preceded him when he went to Paris to sit at the Assembly of Jewish Notables. Appointed president of the Great Sanhedrin, he became the Chief Rabbi of the Central Consistory in 1808. This portrait appears to have been painted during Sintzheim's lifetime. David Sintzheim is depicted in ecclesiastical dress. His hat is not the traditional headgear, but a special cocked hat reminiscent both of the high priest's mitre and of the horned portrayal of Moses. This dunce's cap, laden with negative connotations, could reflect Napoleon's contempt for the Jews.