Friday, April 5, 2019

Remembering Pinchus Krémègne (28 July 1890 – 5 April 1981)

Pinchus Krémègne
Portrait of Pinchus Krémègne by Amadeo Modgliani, 1916. Kunstmeseum, Berne.
Pinchus Krémègne. Self-portrait.
Remembering Pinchus Krémègne (28 July 1890 – 5 April 1981)
by Samuel D. Gruber

Today is the anniversary of the death of Lithuania-born Jewish artist Pinchus Krémègne, an important member of the so-called School of Paris, and a close friend and associate of Chaim Soutine. Though less well-known today than his friends and rivals Soutine, Chagall, Kikoine, Modigliani (who painted his portrait) and others, Krémègne was long-lived and produced an impressive body of work. Most of his paintings are landscapes, townscapes, portraits and nudes - he shied away from social and political painting, and from controversial and conceptual work, and wedo not know of any overtly "Jewish" themes in his work - though there may be some lesser known works or in work he did in Israel in the early 1950s. Much of the latter part of his life was spent in Ceret, France, where he created many of his powerfully expressive - and messy - landscapes. Like his colleague Soutine, he loved the materiality of paint.

Pinchus Krémègne. Provence Landscape, circa 1916
Pincus Kremegne, Les Capucins a Céret.
Pincus Kremegne, Landscape.
This bio is from http://www.ecoledeparis.org/artiste/pinchus_kremegne:

"Pinchus Krémègne was the youngest child in a family of nine. His family was religious and humble, and originally came from the Vilnius region. His father produced objects inspired by Slav folklore. When he was nineteen, Pinchus enrolled in the School of Fine Arts in Vilnius, where he studied sculpture and met Soutine and Kikoïne.

Aware that he did not have a future in Russia, where there was much anti-Semitic persecution at the time, he left for Paris in 1912, arriving after a difficult clandestine departure at La Ruche, “this great Russian hive of activity in Passage Dantzig.” Soutine followed his advice and met him there in 1913. In 1914, Krémègne sculpted and exhibited three artworks at the Salon des Indépendants. In 1915, he gave up sculpture and turned to painting.

In Paris, he discovered the museums and galleries that exhibited works by Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cézanne and the Impressionists.

Pincus Kremegne, Portrait of a Woman ,c1925
Pincus Kremegne. Standing Nude, 1934

From 1916, he spent time in Montparnasse, where he met Kikoïne, André Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck, and Max Jacob. The art dealers Chéron, Zborowski and Paul Guillaume were his first collectors. In 1918, he discovered Céret, which inspired him, and he often stayed there. From 1920, Krémègne started to travel a lot; he went to Corsica (1923), Cagnes-sur-Mer (1928-1929), and Scandinavia, from where he brought many portraits. In 1923, he married Birgit Strömback with whom he later had a son.

In 1940, he took refuge in Turenne in the Corrèze in the Massif Central. He stayed at the house of a villager and helped to work in the fields. A gallery in Toulouse provided him with colors, which enabled him to continue to paint.

Following the Liberation, he returned to Paris and settled in a studio in rue François-Guibert. From 1949 to 1956, he traveled to Israel. However, it was in Cérét that he found the most inspiration. During the 1960s, Krémègne bought a plot in Cérét where he built his “studio-house” and he lived there until he died in 1981."

Pincus Kremegne. Portrait of unknown seated woman.
Pincus Kremegne. Still Life with Bread.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Happy Birthday Leonid Osipovich Pasternak (b. April 4 1862)!

Leonid Pasternak, Self-portrait, 1908
Leonid Pasternak. Self-portrait (before 1916)
Leonid Pasternak, After the Pogrom, 1904, drawing, whereabouts unknown, from R. Cohen Jewish Icons, fig 135
Leonid Pasternak, Musicians, ca. 1900, drawing, whereabouts unknown, from R, Cohen, Jewish Icons, fig. 137
Leonid Pasternak, Study, ca. 1891, drawing whereabouts unknown, from R. Cohen, Jewish Icons, fig. 136

Happy Birthday Leonid Osipovich Pasternak (b. April 4 1862)!
by Samuel Gruber

Today is the birthday of Leonid Pasternak, an accomplished artist (and father of writer Boris Pasternak). Pasternak, born to an Orthodox Jewish family in Odessa trained as doctor and lawyer before settling on painting and drawing, for which he displayed an early talent. He was was of the first Russians to label himself an impressionist, and was a popular portraitist especially of his creative contemporaries, but he also created works in the spirit of other East European Jewish "social" painters of the late 19th and early 20th century. He was friends with Tolstoy and was awarded a medal at the World Fair in Paris (1900) for his illustrations of Tolstoy's novel

Pasternak was elected a member of the Imperial Academy of Arts (1905), and also taught at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. In 1921 he needed eye surgery, which was scheduled to be performed in Berlin. He traveled there with his wife and two daughters, Lydia and Josephine, leaving his sons Boris and Alexander in Russia. After the surgery he decided not to return to Russia, remaining in Berlin until 1938 when he took refuge from the Nazis in Great Britain. He died at Oxford on 31 May 1945.

Pasternak's art spans two world's. He comes out of the popular social and folk movement of pre-Revolution Russia, but he adopts a style that is more western and after 1917 his work would surely be seen as closer to the German Jewish Berlin-based Max Lieberman than to the new generation of Soviet Jewish artists ranging in style for Marc Chagall to El Lissitsky. For political and artisitc reasons one can see why he would have wanted to leave the Society Union for Germany in the 1920s. 

I have not read a biography or detailed study of Pasternak's life and art, but given the times he lived through and the people with whom he associated (just his list of portraits of famous writers and artists is impressive), I'm sure such a study would be fascinating and revealing.

Leonid Pasternak, Night Before the Exam, 1895; Musée d'Orsay, Paris.
Leonid Pasternak, Profile portrait of Leo Tolstoy, 1908.

Leonid Pasternak, Posthumous portrait of Rilke painted two years after his death, 1928.
Leonid Pasternak, Portrait of (Hebrew Poet) Shaul Tchernichovsky.
Leonid Pasternak. Apples.
Leonid Pasternak. The Moscow Kremlin in the March Sun,, 1917
 










Monday, April 1, 2019

Happy Birthday Aaron J. Goodleman (1890-1978)

Aaron Goodleman, The Drillers, 1933. Photo: Skirball Museum, Los Angeles.
Aaron J. Goodelman, Untitled (Man at Machine), 1930, cast and painted plaster, Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Aaron J. Goodelman, The Empty Plate, ca. 1930, plaster/cast and joined, Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Aaron J. Goodelman, Happy Landing, ca. 1930, Tennessee marble, Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Happy Birthday  Aaron J. Goodleman (1890-1978)
by Samuel D. Gruber


Today is the birthday of  Aaron J. Goodleman, and Russian-born American-Jewish sculptor not widely known, but whose work deserves more attention for its formal qualities, its craftsmanship, and its social and political message. Goodelman was also an accomplished illustrator and etcher, and a frequent lecturer and teacher.

He was born Ataki, Russia and studied at an art school in Odessa before immigrating to New York as a teenager in 1905. He studied at at the Cooper Union and the National Academy of Design, and in 1914, just before war broke out in Europe, he studied with Jean-Antoine Injalbert at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

In the 1920s he worked as a machinist and during this time became a communist and exhibited at the John Reed Club in the early 1930s. During this time strove to express themes of social and economic justice in his art. Perhaps his best known work today is his sculpture The Drillers (1933), now in the collection of the Skirball Museum, Los Angeles.
"Sculpture is a language, and . . . if I talk I want people to know I am not just talking in the wind but I have something vital to state.”- Aaron Goodleman
He was a Yiddish speaker and remained active in Yiddish culture throughout his life, joining the Yiddish-speaking branch of the Communist Party, but also illustrating many Yiddish children's books, such as the 2-volume Khaver-pavers mayselakh (1925) which contains thirty-seven illustrated short stories for very young children, in relatively easy Yiddish. Goodleman also provided illustrations for the  children's journals Young Israel, Kinder Journal and Joseph Gaer's books The Burning Bush and The Unconquered.

He was art editor for YKUF (Yidisher Kultur Farband), a Communist-oriented Yiddish  cultural magazine.
Aaron Goodleman, Illustration for Khaver-pavers mayselakh (1925).



Aaron Goodleman, Illustration for Khaver-pavers mayselakh (1925).
Aaron Goodleman. Book cover.

Goodleman was a founding member of the Society of American Sculptors and for many years taught at the Jefferson School of Social Science. He taught at City College of New York in the 1960s.

After World War II, Goodelman created art commemorating  the Holocaust. I have not found images of these works, so if readers have information I would like to hear more.

Aaron J. Goodelman, Man with Wheelbarrow, ca. 1933, granite, Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Aaron J. Goodelman, Kultur, ca. 1940, carved, stained and waxed wood, and formed and welded metal, Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Aaron Goodleman. Torso, 1939-1940. Photo: online auction site. 
Aaron Goodleman. Untitled (Girl with Fountain), 1952. Photo: online auction site.







Friday, March 29, 2019

Happy Birthday Max Fleischer (1841-1905): Synagogue Architect of the Hapsburg Empire

 Max Fleischer, architect (1841-1905).
Vienna, Austria. Neudeggergasse Synagogue watercolor. Max Fleischer architect. Illustration  from: Das Osterreichische Judische Museum pl. 19.
Gliwice, Poland. Design for funerary building and cemetery. Max Fleischer, architect. Watercolor presentation perspective, 1902. From the collection of the Jewish Museum Vienna.
Happy Birthday Max Fleischer (1841-1905): Synagogue Architect of the Hapsburg Empire
by Samuel D. Gruber

Today is the birthday of prolific Viennese synagogue architect Max Fleischer who was a master of historic styles and helped re-integrate Gothic design into Jewish religious and institutional architecture in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was highly successful in his lifetime as a professional land a community leader. He was a highly trained, experienced, and well organized architect - and a practicing Jew. Thus, he  was an ideal candidate to take on many official Jewish community projects in the Strauss-Hungarian Empire. But was Fleischer was artistically cautious and for the most part a believer in the architectural - and cultural - status quo. His works were prominent and functional but innovative only in their inherent conservatism; not in either their overall plan nor in the intricacies of their designs.

Few of Fleischer’s Jewish commissions survive. The former synagogue of Břeclav, Czech Republic (1888) may have been rebuilt by Fleischer in 1888. It was adapted in 1992 into a municipal museum and art gallery and his funerary building at the cemetery in Gleiwitz (now Gliwice, Poland), has recently been restored. It's Romanesque style is not typical of Fleischer's other synagogue designs.

Břeclav, Czech Republic. Former synagogue. Built in 1868, it was rebuilt in 1888, possibly by Max Fleischer. It was adapted in 1992 into a municipal museum and art gallery, and then restored and reopened in 2000. Photo: Wikimedia.
Fleischer is mostly left out histories of synagogue architecture in part because of his embrace of German Gothic design, but also because his building have been destroyed and their grandeur is hard to imagine from line drawings and murky photos. A few presentation watercolors suggest the appeal of his style. Now, with the restoration of the Gliwice Funerary Building, however, there is a display about Fleischer and also the publication last year of small book (in Polish) about the architect and his work (Max Fleischer i jego dzieło. Historia żydowskiego cmentarza i domu przedpogrzebowego w Gliwicach, ISBN 978-83-89856-97-5).

The Gliwice funerary building, opened on November 15, 1903, was one of Fleischer last major works. It consists of three parts: a central prayer hall, which led directly into the cemetery, the mortuary, where the bodies were prepared for burial; and an apartment for the cemetery custodians.  During World War II the building was used as a military warehouse and thus survived. After the war it was returned to the tiny Jewish community of Gliwice, but over time the building fell into ruin. In 2003 It was listed as a national monument, and 2007 the Jewish Community gave the building to the City of Gliwice which in 2012 began to restore the building and to create the Upper Silesian Jews House of Remembrance, a branch for the Museum of Gliwice.

Gliwice, Poland. Funerary building after restoration. Max Fleischer, architect, 1901-03. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018.
Gliwice, Poland. Funerary building after restoration. Max Fleischer, architect, 1901-03. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018
Fleischer was born on March 29, 1841 in Prossnitz , Moravia, at that time part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, now Prostějov in the Czech Republic. He studied at the Technical University of Vienna (1859-63) and at the Academy of Fine Arts (1863-1866). In 1868 he was hired by architect Friedrich von Schmidt, the master builder of St. Stephen’s church and of the neo-gothic Vienna City Hall on the Ringstrasse. Fleischer worked as an associate of von Schmidt  for twenty years, during which time he learned about the organization of big public works and became expert in the Gothic style, both lessons that were useful alter in many of his big synagogue projects. For his work on the City Hall is was recognized by the Emperor, and a portrait bust was included on the building entrance. Already while working with Schmidt he was recognized by the Jewish community and took on several synagogue commissions.

 Max Fleischer portrait on Vienna City Hall. Photo: Wikimedia.
Fleischer became an independent architect in 1887, and soon after began to design synagogues in Vienna, eventually completing the Schmalzhofgasse Synagogue (1883-84), Muellnergasse Synagogue (1889(, and the Neudeggergasse Synagogue (1903). He was also a frequent lecturer on architecture and wrote articles about the design of synagogues.

Vienna, Austria. Synagogue at Schmalzhofgasse 3. Max Fleischer, architect, 1883-84. Photo: from Genee, Syn in Osterreich, fig. 62.
Vienna, Austria. Neudeggergasse Synagogue in 1935. Max Fleischer, architect, 1883-84. Photo: from Genee, Syn in Osterreich, fig. 66.
He also designed synagogues in Budweis (1888) and Pilgram (now České Budějovice and Pelhřimov in the Czech Republic) in style. These were all neo-Gothic in style, which Fleischer preferred as more appropriate to German cultural traditions than the still-popular Moorish style. But like most historicist architects of his time, he was eclectic – and also designed synagogues in others styles in Lundenburg (now Břeclav in the Czech Republic), Krems an der Donau and Nikolsburg (now Mikulov in the Czech Republic) in other styles.
All but the synagogue of Břeclav have been destroyed, many on Kristallnacht, on November. 9-10, 1938).

České Budějovice, Czech Republic (formerly Budweis). Synagogue interior, watercolor by architect Max Fleischer. Image from Das Osterreichische Judische Museum pl. 18.
České Budějovice, Czech Republic (formerly Budweis). Synagogue. Max Fleischer, architect (1868?).
České Budějovice, Czech Republic (formerly Budweis). Synagogue. Max Fleischer, architect (1868?). The Germans blew up the synagogue on June 5, 1942.
Fleischer presented the original design for the Great Synagogue of Pilsen (Plzen, Czech Republic), for which he proposed a Gothic design with twin 65-meter towers and large buttresses. The ground plan was established, and the cornerstone laid in 1888, but work stopped when city councilors rejected the plan fearing the new large building would compete with the nearby St. Bartholomew Cathedral.  In 1891 a revised and smaller design was prepared by Emmanuel Klotz.

Fleischer is an active member of the Jewish community of Vienna and he also designed many of the funerary monuments in the Jewish section of Vienna’s Central Cemetery including those for the Guttmann Brothers, who were wealthy  coal merchants, and chairman of the Jewish community, and for the doctor and politician Adolf Fischhof, Hazzan Salomon Sulzer, banker Eduard Wiener von Welten, and many others  Fleischer is buried in the same cemetery, too, and his grave is marked by a brick Gothic structure more modest than many he designed for his rich clients.

He also designed villas, housing buildings and department stores.

Fleischer died on December 8, 1905 at the age of 64. In addition to his portrait on City Hall, a commemorative plaque at 64 Neustiftgasse in the 7th district of Vienna is unveiled in Fleischer’s memory on November 20, 2008.

Photo: http://www.viennatouristguide.at/index.htm

Thursday, January 17, 2019

USA: Wall Paintings at Sons of Jacob in Providence, Rhode Island

 Providence, Rhode Island. Congregation Sons of Jacob. Exterior. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018.

 Providence, Rhode Island. Congregation Sons of Jacob. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018.
Providence, Rhode Island. Congregation Sons of Jacob. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018.
Providence, Rhode Island. Congregation Sons of Jacob. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018.
Providence, Rhode Island. Congregation Sons of Jacob. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018.
Providence, Rhode Island. Congregation Sons of Jacob. Painted curtain, sky, lions and Decalogue over the Ark. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018.
Providence, Rhode Island. Congregation Sons of Jacob. Month of Elul / Betulah (Virgo).Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018.
USA: Wall Paintings at Congregation Sons of Jacob in Providence, Rhode Island
by Samuel D. Gruber 

Even since I got involved with the rescue and restoration of Lost Shul Mural in Burlington, Vermont several years ago I've had my antennae up for other unknown or too little known examples of American synagogue wall painting. I recently wrote about the Walnut Street Shul in Chelsea, Massachusetts as an excellent and well-preserved example of an early 20th-century painted American immigrant synagogue.  I  documented the wall paintings there as part of an ongoing project of the International Survey of Jewish Monuments to identify and record the decoration of American synagogues.

A remarkable comparable example is the Congregation Sons of Jacob in Providence, Rhode Island, also listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which shares architectural and artistic elements with the Chelsea Shul, including well preserved wall paintings on the Ark wall and ceiling. The Providence synagogue is now part of the Rhode Island Jewish Museum, a new effort founded in 2016 to tell the Jewish immigrant story of Rhode Island. Presently, the Museum is more concept and website than actuality, but the organizers have ambitious plans to restore the synagogue as a centerpiece. While there are have some events at the synagogue connected to the Museum at present there are no exhibitions or other forms of information available beyond what is online. I was very fortunate to have Harold Silverman, president of the congregation, give me a top to bottom tour of the building. It is due to the efforts of Mr. Silverman and a few others that the place still stands and the lights still shine. Much work is needed to preserve the synagogue for the future, but the small congregation has steadfastly kept the building - and its Jewish use and identity -  intact (I'll report more on the progress of the museum in future posts).

Founded in 1896 on Shawmut Street and now located on Douglas Avenue, Sons of Jacob is the oldest Orthodox Jewish congregation in Providence, and the only synagogue still in use in the historic Smith Hill neighborhood. The ground floor was built in 1906 and the sanctuary was designed in 1922 by Harry Marshak. From 1923 through 1936 Congregation president Sam Shore oversaw the decoration of the sanctuary, apparently painting some of the work himself, such as the Zodiac signs which surround the large central field of the ceiling – a open cloud-streaked sky. A history of the congregation can be read here.

These Orthodox shuls in Chelsea and Providence just barely survived the widespread demolition of Jewish neighborhoods for the construction of highways in the 1960s and 1970s. Both buildings officially house active congregations. But these are tiny groups that must struggle to maintain a minyan for services and the fund the ever-mounting expenses of maintain a large old building. Champions of all three synagogues are looking at ways to preserve them for another century, in not as active synagogues, then at least as museums or historical sites following the model of New York City's Eldridge Street Synagogue and a few other successful examples. Ideally religious services will continue alongside other activities, but how this can happen and who will fund the restoration and maintenance of the buddings remains to be seen.

Chelsea, MA. Walnut Street Shul. Aerial view showing proximity to I-95. Photo:Google.
Providence, Rhode Island. Congregation Sons of Jacob. Aerial view showing proximity to I-95. Photo:Google.
Congregation Sons of Jacob in Providence is a two story brick structure that now sits precariously close to the Interstate 95 (I-95) highway that slices through the city. It now faces the I-95, and significantly for an Orthodox Synagogue (but not unusually in American cities) its Ark is placed against the west wall. The outside of the synagogue is dignified, and shows its stained glass windows along its northern flank facing Douglas Avenue, it is the inside the really counts.

The ground floor Beth Midrash and other facilities are well preserved, and this is where most daily and weekly worship takes place. I hope that whatever necessary repairs and changes are made in the future, that this space remain little changed. It is a now-rare example of the combination of religious and social space of the immigrant shul, that allowed these institutions to serve as places of worship, but also as places of social gathering for Yiddish-speaking immigrants still adapting to the pressures and uncertainties of the New World. There may be a temptation to modernize this space, or to clear parts of it entirely to for exhibition or events...but any changes should be careful and modest.

Providence, Rhode Island. Congregation Sons of Jacob. Ground floor Beit Midrash. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018
Providence, Rhode Island. Congregation Sons of Jacob. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018.
The most striking feature of the sanctuary is its many murals. Above the ark is a mural depicting two lions supporting a tablet bearing the Commandments. The painting is framed by a wooden arch made to look like marble, beyond which and surmounting the ark is painted to resemble blue sky framed by red curtains tied with gold cord to columns at the sides.Such curtains are common elements in painted synagogues in Europe and America and recall of the Parochet of the Jerusalem Temple, but also serve as theatrical curtains often opening to reveal celestial or paradisaical landscapes..

Providence, Rhode Island. Congregation Sons of Jacob. View to Ark wall. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018.
Providence, Rhode Island. Congregation Sons of Jacob. Ark wall. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018.
There are four painting of animals above the windows of the upper part of the Ark wall; depicted are the deer, the lion, the eagle, and the tiger. These animals refer, of course, to the passage in the Pirkei Avot / Wisdom of the Fathers  (5:23):
Judah ben Teima used to say: Be strong as the leopard, swift as the eagle, fleet as the gazelle, and brave as the lion to do the will of your Father in Heaven. He also used to say: The impudent are for Gehenna and the affable for Paradise. (He used to pray): May it be thy will, O Lord our God and God of our fathers, that the Temple be rebuilt speedily in our days, and grant our portion in your Torah.
 Each of the animals is shown in an active pose set in an appropriate landscape setting.

Providence, Rhode Island. Congregation Sons of Jacob. Ark wall. Tiger ("Be strong as a leopard"). Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018.
Providence, Rhode Island. Congregation Sons of Jacob. Ark wall. Deer ("fleet as the gazelle"). Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018.
Providence, Rhode Island. Congregation Sons of Jacob. Ark wall. Lion ("brave as a lion"). Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018.
Providence, Rhode Island. Congregation Sons of Jacob. Ark wall. Eagle ("swift as an eagle").Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018.
More expressive as art are two landscape paintings the flank the Ark near its base, just above some enclosed boxes that carry electrical equipment. These are paradisaical landscapes, or might represent the Holy Land, in which case the lakes might be the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. These are no polished works, but seem to be more than mere copies of known works or photos. The loose brushwork suggests that the painter thought og himself as an artist, more than a mere ropiest. Unfortunately, we still known nothing about the process of choosing and making these images.  There are some landscapes paintings on the sides of an Ark in Beth Midrash downstairs, which recall the ark paintings, but are done in a finer hand, perhaps the same artist who painted the clouded skies on the Ark wall and ceiling.

Providence, Rhode Island. Congregation Sons of Jacob. Ark wall. See landscapes immediately beneath the memorial plaques..Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018.
Providence, Rhode Island. Congregation Sons of Jacob. Ark wall. Landscapesflanking Ark immediately beneath the memorial plaques..Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018.
Providence, Rhode Island. Congregation Sons of Jacob. Ark wall. Landscape flanking Ark immediately beneath the memorial plaques..Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018.
Providence, Rhode Island. Congregation Sons of Jacob. Ark wall. Landscape flanking Ark immediately beneath the memorial plaques and electrical equipment..Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018.
Providence, Rhode Island. Congregation Sons of Jacob. Ark wall. Ground floor Beit Midrash. Landscape flanking Ark ..Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018.

Looking up again, there is a painted border around the central ceiling section with twelve images set in cartouche-like frames representing the months of the year embellished with the signs of the zodiac. Within the continuous border, the ceiling is covered with painted clouds. Several examples of trompe-l'oeil painting are evident throughout the large room.
Providence, Rhode Island. Congregation Sons of Jacob. Ceiling, sanctuary and women's gallery seen from near the Ark. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018.
Providence, Rhode Island. Congregation Sons of Jacob. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018.
The area from which the chandelier hangs is painted to approximate an elaborate medallion, similar to what we saw at the Walnut Street Shul in Chelsea, but also a common elements in ceiling painting in theaters, ballrooms and all sorts of elaborate interiors of this period. The fronts of the women's gallery are painted to suggest inlaid marble panels, while the posts supporting the gallery are painted to resemble marble columns

Sam Shore, congregation president from 1923 to 1936, who was "artistically inclined," supervised the painting of the sanctuary and is said to have painted the mazoles (symbols of the twelve Jewish months) himself. No one now remembers who painted the rest of the murals. It is worth noting that unlike at some other American Orthodox shuls, only the traditional figure if the water carrier designating Aquarius has been replaced by a non-figurative image - the well. Elsewhere the humans mingle with animals, and in the case of Sagittarius, the half-man half-horse centaur is used as the symbol. The figure of Gemini - two children on a see-saw - is especially endearing and American.

Providence, Rhode Island. Congregation Sons of Jacob. Month of Nisan / Ṭaleh (Aries).  Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018.
Providence, Rhode Island. Congregation Sons of Jacob. Month of Iyar / Shor (Taurus). Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018.
Providence, Rhode Island. Congregation Sons of Jacob. Month of Sivan / Teomim (Gemini). Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018.
Providence, Rhode Island. Congregation Sons of Jacob. Month of Tammuz / Sarton (Cancer). Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018.
Providence, Rhode Island. Congregation Sons of Jacob. Month of Av / Ari (Leo). Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018.
Providence, Rhode Island. Congregation Sons of Jacob. Month of Elul / Betulah (Virgo). Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018.
Providence, Rhode Island. Congregation Sons of Jacob. Month of Tishrei / Moznayim (Scales). Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018
Providence, Rhode Island. Congregation Sons of Jacob. Month of Cheshvan / 'Aḳrab (Scorpio). Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018
Providence, Rhode Island. Congregation Sons of Jacob. Month of Kislev / Ḳesshet (Sagittarius)
Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018
Providence, Rhode Island. Congregation Sons of Jacob. Month of Tevet / Gedi (Capricorn). Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018
Providence, Rhode Island. Congregation Sons of Jacob. Month o Sevat / D'li (Aquarius). Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018
Providence, Rhode Island. Congregation Sons of Jacob. Month of Adar / Dagim (Pisces).Photo: Samuel Gruber 2018.

For more of my posts about synagogue wall paintings see:  


USA: Winter Can't Stop Preparations for Burlington, Vermont Mural Move

1910 Synagogue Mural Revealed in Burlington; Conservation Efforts to Begin

Century-Old Jewish Mural’s Hidden History in VermontThe Forward (1/17/14)

USA: The Walnut Street Shul in Chelsea, Mass., A Synagogue Full of History and Art (Part 1)

USA: Green Pastures Baptist Church in the Bronx Protects its Synagogue Decorations 

USA: Revisiting LA's Breed Street Shul with Eye on Murals

USA: Mazal Tov, or Signs of the Time (New York's Stanton Street Shul & Its Painted Decoration, Part II)

USA: New York's Stanton Street Shul & Its Painted Decoration, Part I

USA: A Visit to Boston's Vilna Shul

USA: New Haven's Orchard Street Shul (1925)

USA: Cincinnati's Alhambra (Plum Street Temple's Dazzling Interior)