© succession Helmar Lerski,
Museum Folkwang, Essen
Since 1988, the mahJ has been enriching its collection. These are the most recent acquisitions.
In 2018, 102 works joined the mahJ’s collections (70 purchases and 32 donations), including two collections of several hundred photographs and postcards. The mahJ, with the aid of the Fram and the Fondation Pro mahJ, devoted 68,000 € to acquisitions in 2018 (+210%).
Panel of polychrome ceramic tiles.
Tunis, Tunisia, 1920s
2018 was a year of major purchases.
These included a “residence permit for a Jew in Lyon” dated 10 May 1782 and recalling the validity until the Revolution of the edict expelling Jews from France promulgated in 1394, an illuminated parchment “for the redemption of the newborn”, photographs of the creation of Tel Aviv, period prints of photographs by Walter Zadek (1900-1992) of Mandatory Palestine and the fledgling state of Israel, several works and documents illustrating Yiddish culture (newspapers, illustrated books, postcards of Yiddish theatre), a poster by Ephraim Moses Lilien (1874-1925), a self-portrait by Emmanuel Mané-Katz (1894-1962), a drawing by Boris Taslitzky (1911-2005) done in secret at Buchenwald in 1945 and complementing the major donation by his daughter in 2017, three posters from the 1970s showing the solidarity of French Jews with the Jews in the Soviet Union.
In September 2018, the mahJ succeeded in acquiring the only panel missing from the exceptional tabernacle (sukkah) bought at auction in December 1988, the first acquisition for the future museum’s collection. Thirty years later, this major exhibit illustrating the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) is now complete. This sukkah with its rare painted decoration was created for a wealthy family in Austria or southern Germany in the early 19th century. Its thirty-seven pinewood panels are set in a frame at the top and bottom. The interior is decorated with a view of the city of Jerusalem, a pastoral Central European scene with a village by a lake, and a shield inscribed with the first words of the Decalogue. With the addition of the sukkah’s sixteenth panel, acquired with the aid of the Fondation Pro mahJ and the Fonds régional d’acquisition des musées, this extremely rare masterpiece and its Germanic landscape are at last complete.
The mahJ also succeeded in acquiring two collections of photographs (one concerning the Jewish theatre in Moscow and the other the immigration of Moroccan Jews in Israel) and two major postcard collections (one showing the Holy Land and the other Jewish life in North Africa). Four drawings by Henri Berlewi (1894-1967) depicting workers and scenes from traditional Jewish life have further enhanced the museum’s now major collection of this artist’s work. The other acquisitions were wide-ranging: Judaica, including an illuminated marriage contract on parchment from Bayonne (1728), the first from this community to join the mahJ’s collection, a poster dating from the 1930s mobilising French public opinion against the exiling of German Jews, a drawing by Édouard Couturier (1871-1903) mocking the criminologist Alphonse Bertillon’s improbable assertion at the trial in Rennes in 1899 that Alfred Dreyfus could have forged the “bordereau”.
The year ended with the acquisition of a panel of polychrome ceramic tiles produced by the Chemla Brothers (Tunis, 1920s), complementing the exceptional collection of pottery, models and copper matrixes donated by the Chemla family.
The first semester 2017 was rich in acquisitions.
Boris Taslitzky, Self-Portrait, 1927
Gift of Evelyne Taslitzky
In addition to the Taslitzky donation, Yolande Lévy also donated a portrait, Jewish Student, painted in 1927 by Mané-Katz (1894-1962). The museum’s collections were also enhanced by a 19th-century majolica Seder dish (the ritual feast marking the beginning of Passover) donated by Céline Kichelewski, 20th-century Tunisian amulets donated by Lucette Valensi and Abraham Udovitch, Italian, Tunisian and Ottoman crockery and jewellery donated by Giuliana Moreno, early 20th-century European and North African objects and garments donated by Charles Dahan, Gilbert Touati, Mario Bensasson and Gilberte Kalfon, a prayer shawl bag belonging to the late André Bensimon (dated 1924) donated by the Alliance Israélite Universelle, a Torah case (tiq) from Ghardaïa donated by the Chekroun-Setti family, 19th-century religious objects from a family oratory donated by Gérard Racowski, a copy of La Vie juive by Léon Cahun (1841-1900) illustrated by Alphonse Lévy (1843-1918) donated by Edgardo Cozarinsky, and a Daguerreotype portrait of Dina “Joséphine” Liebschutz (1831-1867) donated by Olivier Meyer. Finally, Isabelle and Olivier Audebert offered the museum a very rare late 13th-century or early 14th-century funerary stela from the medieval Jewish cemetery in Bourges. In excellent condition, it bears priceless testimony to the Jewish presence in France before the expulsions in the Middle Ages.
Purchases included an early 20th-century case and phylacteries (tefillin), a study on card dating from the late 1940s of the Kigmy, the emblematic Jewish scapegoat figure, by the famous New York cartoonist Al Capp (1909-1979).
The mahJ also successfully pre-empted an original edition of The Golem by Gustav Meyrink (1915) illustrated by Hugo Steiner-Prag (1880-1945), an edition of Haggadah for Passover by Ben Shahn (1898-1969), gouaches and drawings by Alphonse Lévy (1826-1890), Édouard Loevy (1857-1911) and Jules Worms (1832-1924), two more drawings by Alphonse Lévy and the portrait of Isidore Mendel by Émile Lévy (1826-1890), an early 19th-century earthenware plate with the inscription bassar (“meat”), a marriage contract (ketubah) drawn up in Nîmes in 1856, documents concerning the Emancipation and the Dreyfus Affair, photographs by Walter Zadek (1900-1992) of the life of the pioneers in Palestine in the 1930s, and a rare print by Charles Philibert de Lasteyrie (1759-1849), Interior View of a Synagogue.