Page 26 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 13

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IN THE REALM OF BEAUTY
BOOKS ON JEWISH ART
By
A
l f r ed
W
e r n e r
B
EFORE the last war, readers limited to English found it
difficult to acquire a knowledge of the role played by Jews
in the fine arts or in what is commonly called “Jewish a r t” —
painting, sculpture and architecture serving religious or national
needs of the Jewish people. The only sources were
The Jewish
Encyclopedia
(New York and London, Funk and Wagnalls), of
which the twelfth and last volume was published in 1905, and
one-volume reference works such as
The Encyclopedia of Jewish
Knowledge
, edited by Jacob de Haas (New York, Behrman’s
Jewish Book House, 1934) or
Vallentine's Jewish Encyclopedia
,
edited by Albert M. Hyamson and A. W. Silberman (London,
Shapiro, Vallentine & Co., 1938). In these books, pertinent in-
formation was scattered through a large number of articles. Some
of the material offered by the scholarly and reliable
Jewish En-
cyclopedia
inevitably became dated or no longer valid. In a chapter,
“Art, Music, Stage,” contained in
The Jewish Contribution to
Civilization
(London, Macmillan, 1938), Cecil Roth convinced his
readers that the Jews’ share in the visual arts was far from negli-
gible, and he drew attention to newly discovered frescoes in a
synagogue of ancient Dura-Europos on the Euphrates River.
Unfortunately, Roth’s survey mistakenly listed several Gentile
artists as Jews. Sophie M. Collmann’s
Jews in Art
(Cincinnati,
S. Bacharach, 1909) contained naively written biographies of
Israels, Veit, Mosler, Bendemann, Lilien, Liebermann, and the
sculptor Ezekiel, as well as several good illustrations.
Two former directors of the Jewish Museum in Berlin, Franz
Landsberger and Karl Schwarz, surveyed Jewish art from anti-
quity to the 20th century. Landsberger, now curator of the Jewish
Museum at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Reli-
gion, Cincinnati, wrote a lucid, profusely illustrated,
A History
of Jewish Art
(Cincinnati, Union of American Hebrew Congre-
gations, 1946), a “must” for every Jewish library. The era of
emancipation, underemphasized by Landsberger, was treated more
fully by Karl Schwarz in
Jewish Artists of the 19th and 20th Centu-
20