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Allegory to the Glory of Joseph II


Austro-Hungary, around 1782

Oil on canvas, ø 14 cm

Gift of Claude-Gérard Marcus in memory of his son, Yan Beaubichet-Marcus

Allégorie à la gloire de Joseph II

Anonyme, Allégorie à la gloire de Joseph II, Autriche-Hongrie, vers 1782

In the spirit of the Enlightenment, the Habsburg Emperor Joseph II (1741-1790) implemented major political, economic and religious reforms to strengthen the Holy Roman Empire. He took particular pains to establish his authority in Galicia, a territory seized from Poland. Convinced of the Jews’ “utility” for the state, he increased control of the 200,000 Galician Jews (taxes, professions, residency rights) but granted them more freedom and guaranteed their security. This small picture is a tribute to the emperor. As indicated by the Hebrew inscription ha-melekh (the king) on the socle, he is portrayed as an ideal sovereign who puts an end to wars, re-establishes concord and prosperity and promotes the arts and culture.

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