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OBJECT OF THE MONTH – June 2006


Václav Popelík: Commemoration of the Old Jewish Cemetery and its Surroundings in Prague, 1855
 
lithograph with colour subprint, print 315 x 410 mm, cardboard, 398 x 410 mm,
JMP inv. no. 60.739

The first detailed guidebook to the monuments of Prague’s Jewish Town, entitled Commemoration of the Antiquities of Prague’s Jewish Town (Andenken an die Alterthümer der Prager Josefstadt) with illustrations by Václav Popelík (b. 1825), was published in 1855 by David Jakob Podiebrad (1803–1882), a Prague Burial Society custodian, with Benedikt Foges (1802–1890), head teacher at the Prague Jewish School. At the same time, David Podiebrad also published a separate sheet with Popelík’s views of the most important tombstones in the Old Jewish Cemetery and the Old-New and Klausen synagogues – one of the first souvenirs of Prague’s Jewish Town for visitors from the Czech lands and abroad. In the middle of the sheet there is a view of the cemetery footpath from Pinkas Synagogue on the left with the tomb of Rabbi Meir Marcus Fischel of Mladá Boleslav (d. 1769), the last head of the Prague Talmudic Academy.
Artists’ interest in Old Jewish Cemetery motifs culminated in the 1850s. The most notable artistic output was by the Prague romantic landscape painters Bedøich Havránek (1821–1899) and Matthias Wehli (1824–1889). Their works and many other paintings from Prague’s Jewish Town can be seen at the current exhibition, “IMAGES OF THE PRAGUE GHETTO”, at the City of Prague Museum (Na Poøíèí 52, Florenc Metro Station - Lines B and C).

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