Page 68 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 40

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Abraham holds the “sponge-like” hairy head of his son so that it
covers the lower part of his face, and both the configuration of
Abraham’s mouth covered by Isaac’s face, suggesting a kiss, and
the asymmetry of Abraham’s eyes strongly resemble Redon’s
drawing. Redon illustrates Flaubert’s description of a martyr’s
fiancee who, after his martyrdom, has collected his blood with a
sponge. In the picture that sponge is inseparable from the face so
that it is part of her. Pann may have been attracted by this scene,
since in his interpretation of the Sacrifice, Isaac is in a sense both a
martyr and an object of deep love.
Another, more direct, source for Pann’s
is to be found
Ost und West,
an “Illustrierte Monatsschrift fur Modernes
Juden tum .” This monthly magazine for cultured Zionists had
been published in Berlin since 1901. The graphic illustrations
were done by Lilien, and articles about him were published there.
Pann’s works as well dot its pages. This magazine is vital for an
understanding of Zionist cultural trends at the beginning of the
century. One of the topics which is repeatedly analyzed in
Ost und
deals with illustrations for the Bible by European artists —
both Christian and Jewish. It is no accident that both Zionist
artists and this leading Zionist magazine should manifest a grow­
ing concern with the Bible and its illustrations at this time, since
the Bible was viewed as a common unifying source for the Jewish
people. One of the subjects studied was the Sacrifice of Isaac. An
article by A. Kutna, dealing with Isaac’s Sacrifice in illustrative art
(“Die Opferung Isaks in der Bildenden Kunst”), was published in
volume VIII (1908). Two typical types of the scene are presented
— the conventional one with all the attributes (altar, angel, ram,
and dramatic gesture) and another, less frequent, which was
exemplified by the Dutch artist, Jan Lievensz (1607-74) (fig. 6).
Father and son are depicted here in a close physical embrace, both
of them looking upwards. The affection expressed in this exam­
ple may have inspired Pann, yet his picture does not have the
sentimental quality of his predecessor; on the contrary, it tends to
be disturbing, creating an ambivalent, puzzling feeling.
Pann was concerned with the Sacrifice of Isaac in his later work
as well. In 1942 he did a pastel (fig. 7) and at the end of the forties
another quite similar one on this theme (fig. 8). In both, the two