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OBJECT OF THE MONTH – January 2005

Torah Shield
(at Spanish Synagogue)

This Torah shield was made in 1820 by the Prague silversmith Karel Skøemenec. It is of no particular interest in itself since it is a piece of relatively low quality, as was usual for Skøemenec’s late work. It is a copy of a famous shield in the Pinkas Synagogue made in 1785 by Richard Fleischmann, a contemporary of Køemenec’s. The difference in how it was made is apparent when one compares it not only with the original, but also with two earlier copies of Fleischmann’s shield. While Fleischmann always focused on the high quality of his work, Skøemenec’s workshop produced a huge amount of roughly worked products that were intended for less prosperous clients, particularly in the second decade of the 19th century. A comparison of the two shields clearly illustrates the completely different approach of the two silversmiths who, coincidentally, joined the silversmith’s guild on the same day and undoubtedly knew each other well.





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