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OBJECT OF THE MONTH – August 2006


Anonymous: Portrait of Rabbi Salomon Winter (1779-1853), probably Prague, ca. 1850
 
Inv. no. 63.172
Oil on canvas, 59.6 x 46.7 cm
unsigned, undated

The portrait of Rabbi Salomon Winter was acquired by the pre-war Jewish Museum in Prague in 1926 as a gift from Erwin Weisbach from Prague. In his covering letter of 16 July 1926, addressed to the founder of the museum Prof. S. H. Lieben, the donor (a descendant of Winter) writes that “...This painting depicts Salomon Winter, a late relative of mine who was about eighty years at the time and who served as rabbi for the district of Kouřim with a seat in Libeň near Prague. Born some time around 1780, he was an authority on the Talmud and significantly gained recognition for the construction of the Libeň Synagogue. His last resting place is in the Old Jewish Cemetery in Libeň, with a large tombstone containing a Hebrew inscription. For closer orientation, it can be stated that the tombstone of his son is situated next to his grave and has the inscription Josef Winter keiserl. Arzt und Ehrenbürger der Stadt Teplitz [Josef Winter, imperial physician and honorary citizen of the town of Teplice]. ...”
The reality, however, differs in certain details from the information cited in Weisbach’s letter. Rabbi Salomon Winter, whose full name was Nathaniel Shelomo ben Pinhas Winter, was born in 1779 in Radonice (a village to the north-east of Prague). In 1838 he was appointed district rabbi of Kouřim with a seat in Libeň. He held this post until his death at the age of only 74 in 1853.
Other important items from the Jewish Museum in Prague’s pre-war collection are featured in the exhibition “Defying the Beast”, which is on view at the Robert Guttmann Gallery from 17 August until 1 October 2006.

 


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