Jewish art

Jewish Amulet: ‘the sun will not harm you by day nor the moon by night’

This amulet draws on Jewish verse, traditional art and mysticism. The text ‘the sun will not harm you by day nor the moon by night’ is taken from Psalm 121 (Shir Lamaalot). Inside the amulet are three mythical characters some believe to have protective powers: Sanvai, Sansanvai & Semangelof… These angels first appeared in a Kabbalistic text and have been around for hundreds of years. 

Designed by Meryl Urdang.


Havdalah spice container, Germany, late 19th Century.

During Havdalah, a Jewish religious service commemorating the end of Shabbat, the use of all five senses is intended—tasting the wine, smelling the spices, seeing the flame of the candle and feeling its heat, and hearing the blessings. Fragrant cloves, cinnamon, or myrtle leaves are held in artistically decorative spice containers with elaborate metalwork, usually made of tin and silver, and often in the form of towers stylistically influenced by local architecture. 

Torah Curtain with a Hebrew Inscription from Psalm 118: “This is the Gate of the Lord through which the righteous enter”. Cairo, Egypt. Early 17th century.

This Torah curtain reflects a well-known type of Ottoman court prayer rug or sajjadah, with a single arch supported by decorated single or coupled columns with faceted bases that appear to be rendered in perspective. The central motif is a menorah in the form of a chalice decorated with nine hanging lamps.

Louise Catherine Breslau (1856-1927)
“La Toilette” (1898)
Oil on canvas
Currently in a private collection

Breslau would become the third woman artist, and the first foreign woman artist to be bestowed France’s Legion of Honor award. Breslau would go on to become a well-regarded colleague to some of the day’s most popular artists and writers including Edgar Degas and Anatole France. One person who was very special in Breslau’s life was Madeleine Zillhardt, with whom she spent over forty years. Zillhardt, a fellow student at the Académie Julian, became Breslau’s muse, model, confidant, and supporter.