Page 27 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 13

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(New York, Philosophical Library, 1949). Schwarz’ early
Die Juden in der Kunst
(1928; second edition, 1936) is well
worth bringing up to date and translating. The later volume is
not without flaws: statements on the relationship between Jews
and art are not always tenable, important artists are omitted, and
the translation is poor. But, in general, Schwarz’ estimates of
individual artists and works of art are sound. His blunt con-
demnation of the pseudo-art that has crept into our synagogues,
centers, club rooms and homes is refreshing. Helen Rosenau’s
A Short History of Jewish Art
(London, James Clarke & Co.,
1948) is the work of a third refugee from Nazi oppression. Part
of a 1940 thesis at the University of London, this brief text en-
deavors to elucidate the main characteristics and tendencies of
Jewish art which penetrated from the Middle East into Europe and
from there to the British Empire and the United States.
From these general works, the reader might turn to monographs
published in the last fifteen years. The late Adolf Reifenberg of
the Hebrew University gave us
Ancient Hebrew Arts
(New York,
Schocken Books, 1950). The narrative spans the long period from
the time of the Kings of Israel (about 1,000 B.C.E.) to the seventh
century C.E. I t begins with the relics of substantial stone and
brick buildings at Etzion Geber, the Red Sea port of King Solo-
mon. I t concludes with rich mosaic pavements that embellished
synagogues in the era of Mohammed’s appearance. In addition
to 200 illustrations, the book contains a chronology of Palestinian
archaeology, a map of the locations of archaeological interest in
ancient Palestine and several useful indices.
A second study by Reifenberg,
Ancient Jewish Coins
Rubin Maas, 2nd revised edition, 1947), covers half a millennium:
from the early fourth century B.C.E. to the second revolt of the
Jews (132-135 C.E.). At the beginning of the Bar Kochba revolt,
coins bore the inscription, “Freedom of Israel.” When Jerusalem
was lost to the Romans, the motto was changed to “For the Free-
dom of Jerusalem.” Reifenberg writes: “Jewish coinage reaches
its highest standard of workmanship at the very time when the
last serious rising was brutally crushed. But the modest designs,
showing the intensity of national feeling, not only survived in the
synagogue art of the first Christian centuries, but also influenced
Jewish art during the Middle Ages and have survived in popular
art even down to our days.”