NEW YORK, NY.- On December 17, 2008 Sothebys New York will hold its annual sale of Important Judaica, comprising important manuscripts, books, ceremonial metalwork, carpets and textiles, and paintings. Highlights from the sale include an Extraordinary Silver Sabbath Hanging Lamp (est. $600/800,000), a rare set of illustrations by Zeev Raban of the Passover Haggadah (est. $180/220,000), a selection of reliefs by the founder of the Bezalel School of Art, Boris Schatz, and important Jewish carpets from the esteemed collection of Anton Felton. The 168 lots included in the sale will be on exhibition alongside important Hebrew manuscripts and rare printed books from the Delmonico Collection of Important Judaica and the annual sale of Israeli and International Art beginning December 11.
The sale will feature an Extraordinary Silver Sabbath Hanging Lamp from Augsburg, Germany by Gottfried Barterman, 1761-63 (est. $600/800,000). Though some Dutch, Italian and English examples of Sabbath Lamps are known, this intricately detailed hanging lamp is exceptionally rare in silver most examples were created in brass. Comprising oil fonts arranged in a star, the work is known in German as Judenstern, or Jewish Star, and bears an original presentation inscription. Also highlighted among the silver offerings will be a Magnificent Pair of Early English Parcel-Gilt Silver Large Baroque Torah Finials by William Spackman, London, 1719 (est. $300/500,000), from the Great Synagogue in Sydney, Australia one of Sydneys most historic structures and congregations.
Also included will be an extremely rare set of illustrations by Ze'ev Raban of the Passover Haggadah (est. $180/220,000). Created in Jerusalem in 1925, these romanticized watercolors blend biblical history with the aesthetic ideology proposed by the Bezalel School of Art. In 1912, Zeev Raban emigrated from Poland to Palestine, where he quickly involved himself in the development of the emerging state and was invited by Boris Schatz to join the Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts. The prolific artist devoted himself to the awakening of Hebrew art in Palestine and created among his many works groups of bible illustrations such as the present lot. The illustrations for the Passover Haggadah demonstrate the artists dexterity in bridging a wide scope of influence and ideas, the result of which is a coherent, exquisite work which summons a rich past and vivid present of a people committed to their faith and to renewed national identity.
Boris Schatz, the founder and Director of the Bezalel School of Art in Jerusalem, is represented by a number of reliefs that are being sold by the artist's estate. Among these is an exceptional terra cotta representation of the artist and his estranged wife Genia, depicted as the protagonists in the epic biblical narrative, Samson and Delilah (est. $30/50,000). Schatz, likening himself to Samson as victim to a woman's betrayal, sculpted this in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 1905, a year before immigrating to Eretz, Israel to begin his famed Hebrew school of art. The work was inscribed and presented to his beloved daughter Angelika, from whom he was separated as a result of his divorce. Also included from the Estate of Boris Schatz will be The First Mitzvah (est. $10/15,000), The Rabbis Blessing (est. $10/15,000), and Yehudit ($12/15,000).
Leading the paintings to be offered is an exquisitely rendered Portrait of a Rabbi by Isidor Kaufmann, (est. $200/300,000). This portrait captures the essence of a rabbi devoted to his faith. Pensive and solemn, the model, garbed in a conventional black silk caftan and Wolkenbruchspodek (fur hat), stands before an ornate Torah curtain, likely purchased by the artist during his many journeys to Eastern Europe. The subject's red beard and tooled covered prayer book blend with the golden hues of the work's background, creating a superbly harmonious composition. The frontal view, used most frequently by Kaufmann, places the observer's perspective slightly below the figure's composed gaze, thus enhancing the sitter's contemplative and dignified air.
Also featured is an important collection of Jewish Rugs and Carpets from the Collection of Anton Felton, who fifty years ago began his exploration of the genre and in 1997 published the first-ever book surveying the category, entitled Jewish Carpets. The eighteen lots on offer from Mr. Feltons collection this December demonstrate the diversity and universality of Jewish carpets. They reflect many different aspects of Jewish history and culture, recording messages and events ranging from religious and political to charitable and personal. This array of carpets include a mid-19th century silk carpet from Kashan portraying King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba (est. $20/30,000), as well as another example from Kashan dating to 1936 illustrating Moses and the Ten Commandments (est. $5/7,000). Also on offer are Bezalel and Marbadiah rugs (estimates range from $5,000 to $15,000), produced in Jerusalem between 1906 and 1929. These early carpets, whose designs characterize the Art Nouveau form in Jewish art, include The Songs of Songs and a rare example depicting menorahs against the Jerusalem skyline, both estimated at $8/12,000. Rounding out the collection is a lot of ten Chenille Rugs which were made in Jerusalem in the Alliance Israelite Universelle School depicting pivotal figures of Zionism, among them: Theodore Herzl, Lord Balfour and Chaim Weizmann (est. $5/7,000).