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TIOH Art Tour: Chasidic Boy Holding Lulav and Etrog

  • By Isador Kaufmann 
  • Late 19th Century 
  • Colored Print 

Isidor Kaufmann lived from 1853 to 1921. Kaufmann was a painter well known to his contemporaries for his Jewish genre imagery. Born and raised in cosmopolitan surroundings, he spent much of his time in the small towns of Hungary and Poland, painting his subjects from the life he found there because he felt that “Jewish life and Jewish feelings vibrate more strongly” in the old settlements. This piece was made somewhere near the end of the 19th century. At the time this image was made, it was consciously nostalgic; this boy was a type as well as a person.   

The student is a serious young man. He stares at Isidor Kaufmann, the painter, with a pensive air. Perhaps he would rather be outside with his friends; perhaps he is tired of sitting for this painter from far away, from the big city. He represents a time that is already crumbling, although he cannot know that. The wars that will destroy this way of life have not yet begun, but Jews are already moving to the city and a more secular life. He carries the weight and the tradition gravely. For Kaufmann, this is what it meant to be Jewish in a small town in Eastern Europe at the end of the 19th century. 

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