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A Los Angeles Childhood – Jour 8 - Musee d’art et d’Histoire du Judaisme – The Jews in Orientalism
Monday, 25 June 2012 20:34

The 38 Bus takes me near the Centre Georges Pompidou and from there I easily find Rue de Temple and the Jewish Museum. It has been a few years since I have been to this museum. For those of you who are coming to Paris before July 8th, it is definitely worth the trip to see this museum.

To me it was most interesting to understand the discovery of the Jews in the land of Islam. Several artists discovered the Jewish communities around the Mediterranean rim.  Artists were said to imagine this before they visited this area: Eugene Delacroix in Morocco and Theodore Chasseriau in Algeria. Both filled notebooks with sketches of Jewish figures. Some of these sketches were used by Delacroix for his painting: JEWISH WEDDING IN MOROCCO in 1841.

Europeans went in search of the origins of western civilization looking at images of Jerusalem. There were paintings of David Roberts and Thomas Seddon.

Images came forward in art. It was the birthplace of the Bible. Horace Vernet shows Abraham as a Bedouin by his tent. Tissot and Holman Hunt have depictions of Jesus preaching in a synagogue in Jerusalem. Images that speak to Orientalism are shown by example in episodes set in Egypt with Joseph and in Persia with the image of Esther. I remember those stories from my old Sunday school days.

In searching for a Jewish history, the artist became a means of asserting a Jewish identity. Paintings by Eduard Bendelmann and Henri-Leopold Levy dealt with the exile in Babylon in demonstrating the theory of the Diaspora or dispersion of the Jewish people. Maureycy Gottlieb dealt with the interface between Judaism and Christianity and defines this with his painting CHRIST BEFORE HIS JUDGES. What I found most interesting was seeing these paintings with my own eyes. Grasping the largeness of the influence of art on culture through tying these images all together in one exhibit.

Because mounting anti-Semitism in Europe gave rise to the Zionist project for a separate land for the Jews, and was formulated by Theodore Herzl. Artists began to draw together a continuous relationship between the contemporary Middle East and Biblical Antiquity, beginning to re-embrace an oriental Jewish Identity.

Return soon to read more about the living history found within this museum and thank you for reading Not Just A Jewish Book Blog.