Hanukka by Moritz Daniel OppenheimPurim players by Jankel Adler Yom Kippur by Maurycy Gottlieb

  • Issue: June 1975
  • Designer: M.D. Oppenheim / Y. Adler / M. Gottlieb
  • Stamp size: 40 x 51.4 mm
  • Plate no.: 440 - 442
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: E. Lewin-Epstein Ltd.
  • Method of printing: Photolithography

Hanukka by Moritz Daniel Oppenheim (1800-1882)

Moritz Daniel Oppenheim was born in 1800 in Hanau near Frankfurt. He was the first Jewish painter to leave the ghetto to study art. He attended the Munich Academy of Art and afterwards went to Paris to continue his studies. In 1821 he moved to Rome where he spent the next four years. During this time he was close to the German group known as the "Nazarenes" and to the Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen who befriended him. In 1825 he returned to Germany and settled in Frankfurt. Here he became a well-known portrait painter doing portraits of Heinrich Heine, Ludwig Borne, Gabriel Giessen as well as of numerous members of the Rothschild family. A lengthy correspondence with Goethe whose "Hermann and Dorothea" he illustrated resulted in a visit to Weimar, where he was honoured by the Grand Duke Karl August with the title of "Professor". In later years he achieved fame through his series of pictures of Jewish family life which had an enormous popular aspect. In the eighteen sixties Oppenheim copied his paintings in 'grisaille' (black and white) for reproduction in book form. The book appeared in 1866 and was a great success.

The picture "Hanukka" reproduced on the stamp, belongs to the series of grisaille paintings. Oppenheim died in 1882.

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Purim players by Jankel Adler (1895-1949)

Jankel (Jacob) Adler was born in Lodz, Poland, in 1895, the seventh son of a miller. At the age of 11 he was apprenticed to an uncle who was an engraver and goldsmith. He then wandered across Eastern Europe and Germany where he studied art and worked as an engraver, until the First World War put an end to his activities. Returning to Poland after the war, he produced paintings - mainly of Jewish themes - and woodcuts in an expressionistic manner.

Shortly after he settled in Duesseldorf, where he enjoyed success as an artist and teacher, he met and was influenced by Paul Klee. There he painted the "Purim Players". In this painting the figures are stripped of all individuality and assume a monumental aspect. They become transformed, as it were, into pillars of salt in a desolate and barren landscape. The only sign of real life is the small figure in the background who acts as witness to the scene and perhaps represents the artist himself; the simple linearity and broad, flat areas of colour are enriched by the thick encrustation of texture.

Following the coming to power of the Nazis who expelled him from all artistic circles and destroyed some of his works, Adler emigrated to Paris. As a result of his association with Picasso and despite the fact that he was under great nervous strain, he began a methodical reevaluation of all the techniques and values he had acquired during his German years. As a volunteer in the Polish army he was evacuated in 1940 to Scotland where he remained until 1943.

In Scotland he exerted a considerable influence on young English painters Jew and Gentile alike.

His last years Jankel Adler spent in the London area, returning to his early Jewish motifs but treating them in the new less realistic style.

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Yom Kippur by Maurycy Gottlieb (1856-1879)

Maurycy (Moshe) Gottlieb was born on February 28, 1856 in the town of Drohobycz, in Polish Galicia, to a wealthy owner of an oil refinery. His father, Yitzchak, encouraged the artistic talents shown by Maurycy as a child.

Maurycy grew up in an atmosphere of Jewish tradition and accompanied his father to the synagogue on Sabbaths and Holidays where the sight of praying Jews covered in their prayer-shawls, and of devout women in festive dress and adorned with precious stones made a lasting impression on him. These early childhood memories reappear in many of Maurycys paintings.

His exceptional talents persuaded his father to send Maurycy to Lwow where at the tender age of 11 he was accepted at the Academy under the guidance of Prof. Godlewski. After 5 years of study, he transferred to the Vienna Academy of Arts for one year. It was during this sojourn in Vienna and while searching for an individual style of his own that he came in contact with works by Jan Matejko, the most famous Polish painter of the period, and decided to travel to Cracow to study under the Polish master.

Matejko's paintings profoundly influenced Gottlieb - he turned from German to Polish subject matter. And it was in Cracow that Gottlieb encountered the humiliating taste of antisemitism on the part of his fellow-students and colleagues. This hostility forced him to move to Munich. Perhaps the overwhelming note of pessimism which begins to appear in his work from this time can be traced to his experiences in Cracow. In Munich, under the liberal guidance of Prof. Piloty, Gottlieb's talents were freed from all constraint. His paintings of this period - mainly Jewish types and portraits - are testimonies of psychological insight and are imbued with a lyrical melancholy.

At the age of 21 Gottlieb returned to Vienna. During this second stay in the Austrian capital, Maurycy (Moshe) Gottlieb became an independent and fully mature artist reaching a climax in his brief but prolific career with the painting "Yom Kippur". This painting, which includes a self-portrait and portraits of his family reveals an exceptional painter, a draughtsman and colorist of outstanding ability. Unlike earlier portrayals of Jewish scenes, Gottliebs is not sentimental nor theatrical, the gestures and expressions are convincing, and the oriental beauty of the women is stressed.

In 1878 Gottlieb moved to Rome for a short while. Later he returned to Cracow where, as a result of an unsuccessful throat operation, he died on July 17, 1879, at the age of 23.

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