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The Jewish Museum
1109 5th Ave at 92nd St
New York, NY 10128

The Jewish Museum
1109 5th Ave at 92nd St
New York, NY 10128
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1,600+ High-Resolution Images of Artwork Now Available for Free... Read More

Explore public domain images from the Jewish Museum collection on TheJewishMuseum.org and Google Arts and Culture

More than 1,600 images of works in the Jewish Museum collection are now available for high-resolution download on TheJewishMuseum.org/Collection.

Earlier this summer, the Jewish Museum made more than 1,600 images of collection objects in the public domain available for free high-resolution download on the Museum’s online collection. Today, these works are also available online to explore on Google Arts & Culture, Google’s online platform for accessing more than 6 million high-resolution images of artworks.

In recent years, museums around the world have released thousands of high-resolution images into the public domain to further inspire, educate, and promote broader awareness of visual literacy online. A work of art passes into the public domain in one of several ways: its copyright expires, the image is produced by a government employee, or it is created with specific Creative Commons licenses at the discretion of its creator. In the United States, works of art greater than 120 years old are generally considered public domain; this year, anything created before the year 1898 is available for public use.

At the Jewish Museum, images of 1,639 objects have been identified as public domain status with high-resolution photography. To search through these images online, simply select “Works with High-Res Images” to filter results, or look for the “PD” icon at the bottom of the image on each page.

Marriage Wall Panel or Table Top, Italy, 18th-early 19th century. The Jewish Museum, New York

The Jewish Museum’s diverse collection of nearly 30,000 objects spans 4,000 years of art and Jewish culture, from antiquities created in the 6th millennium BCE, to contemporary painting, sculpture, photography, and media works. At the Museum, nearly 600 works are on view now in the rotating exhibition Scenes from the Collection. For audiences who can’t make it to New York, the exquisite detail of objects such as this 18th-early 19th century Marriage Wall Panel or Table Top from Italy can now be examined close-up online. Created on the occasion of a marriage, the high-resolution image of the mosaic reveals the artist’s precision in carefully cutting and arranging each piece of stone.

Once in the public domain, images are available free of charge for any use, including modification and distribution. In the history of art, artists have frequently cited images of the past to re-examine the present. The Jewish Museum collection contains many examples of artists who have radically adapted ritual objects, while bringing these works into a new focus.

Gay Block and Malka Drucker, A Recontextualized Ketubbah, 1994.
The Jewish Museum, New York

In 1994 — decades before the Jewish Museum collection was digitized — the artist Gay Block collaborated with Malka Drucker to create A Recontextualized Ketubbah. Block and Drucker started with a high-resolution image of a ketubbah (a Jewish marriage contract) created in Livorno, Italy in 1751 from the collection. The artists then superimposed an image of their own wedding five years earlier onto the document, and behind it, placed a blown-up image of the intricately embroidered textile used in creating the couple’s wedding outfits. The result is a striking contrast between a centuries-old ritual object, and the nostalgia of a black and white wedding photograph in which the two brides clutch hands and gaze into each other’s eyes. Vibrant pink petals emerge from behind the ketubbah, wrapping the composition in a warm glow. This superimposition simultaneously demonstrates deference for the traditions of Judaism, while updating the document to be more inclusive of the diversity of Jews today.

All artwork can age into the public domain, such as the original ketubbah referenced by Block and Drucker, however images created by U.S. government employees are available to the public from their inception. Jewish Museum collection artist Debbie Grossman took advantage of this in her 2009–2010 photographic series My Pie Town. Her images are based on photographs by the Farm Security Administration photographer Russell Lee, who documented Pie Town, New Mexico at the tail end of the Great Depression. Lee’s original photographs, which frame sun-weathered nuclear families and farm animals against dusty landscapes, are available through the Library of Congress.

Debbie Grossman, Jessie Evans-Whinery, homesteader, with her wife Edith Evans-Whinery and their baby, 2009–10. The Jewish Museum, New York

After reading Pie Town Woman: The Hard Life and Good Times of a New Mexico Homesteader by Joan Myers, which foregrounds the story of town local Doris Caudill, Grossman wondered what the photographic memory of the small town would look like if women were the central figures of each image. Taking to Photoshop, Grossman surgically removed men from these images and edited women into their places, re-imagining an archive of a utopian lesbian community in the American southwest. On the series, the artist has said:

“I am filled with a longing to connect with that time and the people in Lee’s images. But as a modern, queer woman, there is no room for me or for my objects of desire in his pictures. So in an attempt to make the history I wish was real, I have made over Pie Town to mirror my fantasy.”
Jack Whinery, homesteader, with his wife and the youngest of his five children, Pie Town, New Mexico, 1940. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

In Jessie Evans-Whinery, homesteader, with her wife Edith Evans-Whinery and their baby, the two women stare straight at the camera, their faces brightly lit against dark plaid and a worn homestead interior. The title’s factual description, combined with Grossman’s skillful rendering, make the photograph’s edits imperceptible for those that do not know its context. In Lee’s original 1940 photograph titled Jack Whinery, homesteader and family, Pie Town New Mexico, only the patriarch is mentioned by name, and his height dominates the image. In Grossman’s revision, the women are equals, their surroundings a little bit brighter, and dates are removed. Grossman’s artistic intervention demonstrates the value of the public domain: in her appropriation of public property, a state-created visual document is reworked to suit a new public. The images that make up My Pie Town are fanciful, yet hopeful — they imagine a country that could have been, and one which still could be.

With more than 1,600 high-resolution images of artwork in the Jewish Museum collection that await for your consumption, distribution, and re-interpretation, what will you create?

— Jeremy Lee Wolin, Digital Intern

Explore, download, and share high-resolution images from the Jewish Museum collection online at TheJewishMuseum.org/Collection.


1,600+ High-Resolution Images of Artwork Now Available for Free Download was originally published in The Jewish Museum on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

From Nome, Alaska to the Jewish Museum, New... Read More

This Rosh Hashanah, learn about an unexpected New Year Greeting in the Jewish Museum collection from Nome, Alaska engraved from a walrus tusk.

Happy Jack (born Angokwazhuk), New Year Greeting, Nome, Alaska, United States, 1910. Walrus tusk: engraved; gold inset. The Jewish Museum, New York

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins this Sunday, September 9 at sundown. The holiday serves not only as the beginning of the Jewish Year, but also initiates the Days of Awe (Yamim Noraim), known as the Ten Days of Repentance (Aseret Yemei Teshuvah), and culminates with Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. A rabbinical interpretation found in the Talmud suggests that Rosh Hashanah coincides with the anniversary of the sixth day of creation, thereby marking the birth of humanity. Like any birthday, Rosh Hashanah is celebrated with sweet treats and greeting cards.

Shofar, India, 20th century. Kudu horn. The Jewish Museum, New York

For Jews around the world, Rosh Hashanah is ushered in with a shofar blast and a profusion of New Year greetings. In the days leading up to the holiday, my family’s kitchen table is overtaken with cards wishing a sweet New Year, or blessings of good health and happiness. The exchange of greeting cards around the High Holidays dates back to the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries in Germany when rabbis of the period recommended that all notes open with the blessing:

may you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.

While simple paper and more recently digital cards have been the standard medium for conveying Rosh Hashanah wishes, the Jewish Museum collection also features an selection of non-traditional New Year greetings. Reflecting the multitude of regions, cultures, and local traditions in which Jews have migrated and settled, the Museum’s collection of holiday cards offers a vision of the breadth and diversity of the Jewish experience.

Having made a number of Rosh Hashanah cards over the years, I enjoy viewing the historically distinct, inventive, and even kooky imagery that artists have created around the holiday. While works in the Museum collection are far more elaborate than the simple “shofar, so good” message I typically send, I feel particularly attached to this archive of work. Standing in the gallery studying a New Year greeting on display, I know I am carrying forward an artistic tradition that has existed for centuries.

This year’s digital Rosh Hashanah greeting from the Jewish Museum celebrating the year 5779

For Jews living in the United States and Germany in the early twentieth century, Rosh Hashanah greetings have served as markers of assimilation and sophistication. With increasingly elaborate Christmas and (secular) New Year’s cards being produced, Rosh Hashanah greetings were manufactured to serve their Jewish counterparts. Three-dimensional card pop-up cards such as this greeting, on view now in Scenes from the Collection, were printed in Germany and sold by the Hebrew Publishing Company in the United States. The card expands into a scene of a boat carrying Moses with the Ten Commandments, festooned in pastel pink and carnation red flowers. Its fine coloration is a product of the advanced color printing techniques perfected in German factories following the industrial revolution. Manufactured for display, this card may have been placed on the mantle of the receiver’s home.

New Year Greeting, Germany, early 20th century. Embossed paper: printed and cut-out. The Jewish Museum, New York

While intricate pop-up greeting cards were widely manufactured in Europe, a greeting from Nome, Alaska made in 1910, on view now in the Taxonomies gallery of Scenes from the Collection, represents a one of a kind missive. While the Hebrew inscription at the center which reads “May you be inscribed for a good year, 5671” is standard, its method of delivery — a walrus tusk — is not.

https://medium.com/media/f79c4b8a2d65c15421e0883afef7a179/href

For nearly 400 years, Jewish immigrants have brought to America their skills and ambition to succeed, often settling in less desirable areas. Jews have had a presence in Alaska since its purchase by the United States in 1867. It was not until the Klondike gold rush of 1897, which was quickly followed by the discovery of gold near Nome, that Jews began to settle along Cape Nome as part of a wave of 30,000 immigrant miners, business men, and fortune seekers. In response to the influx of immigrants to Alaska in the nineteenth century, Inuit carvers began to experiment with “western pictorial style,” a method of carving that mimicked halftone illustrations or photographs.

Produced by an Alaskan Inuit carver understood as the most influential carver in the western pictorial style named Angokwazhuk and known as Happy Jack, this Alaskan artifact in the Jewish Museum collection combines the centuries-old local tradition of Inuit walrus tusk carving with the Jewish tradition of exchanging New Year’s greetings. Happy Jack is credited with developing a technique of engraving walrus tusks with a needle that allowed artists to render nearly perfect imitations of newspaper halftones. On this walrus tusk, Happy Jack carved an observant Jewish couple believed to have run a store in Nome, Alaska. At the bottom of the tusk, Happy Jack inscribed the name of the town. Today, this unique object serves as testimony that Nome was one among many far-flung places to host Jews.

— Rhea Stark, Education Intern

In observance of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish Museum will be closed beginning 3 pm on Sunday, September 9 through Tuesday, September 11. Learn more about the High Holy Days through works in the Jewish Museum collection online.


From Nome, Alaska to the Jewish Museum, New York — Wishing You a Sweet New Year was originally published in The Jewish Museum on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

The Metamorphosis of Chaim Soutine: IV. Europe in... Read More

In the final chapter of our series, explore Soutine’s work before his untimely death: influenced by threats from Nazi Germany, antisemitism in France, and profound anxiety from within.

“I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.
For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath: so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.”
—Ecclesiastes 3, 18–19

With increasing tensions in Paris between 1933 and 1940, Chaim Soutine had been less productive than he was earlier in his career. According to Emile Szittya, Soutine “only saw world events when they touched him personally.” When Hitler came to power, he was forced to remember his Jewish ancestry. As a result of the tumult of the times and his declining health, the painter’s last period was devoted to subjects of landscape and domestic animals.

In 1937, Henry Miller, the American expatriate novelist, was Soutine’s neighbor in the artist’s complex known as the Villa Seurat in Montparnasse, in the fourteenth arrondissement. He wrote of Soutine:

“By those times his bohemian days were finished. And he was suffering from stomach and liver troubles and whatnot, and lived like a recluse. I used to go down to borrow a knife and fork or salt and pepper from him now and then. Once in a while he came upstairs to my place when we had a party. He had an obsession with Rembrandt, who he idolized…he seems tamed now, as if he were trying to recover from the wild life of other days. He hesitates to salute you in the open street, for fear you will get too close to him. When he opens his mouth, it’s to say how warm or cold it is — and does the neighbor’s radio bother you as much as it does him.” (Miller, 165).
Installation view of the exhibition Chaim Soutine: Flesh. The Jewish Museum, NY. Photo by: Jason Mandella

In the same year, Soutine met Gerda Michaelis, a refugee from Nazi Germany. Within a month, she became Soutine’s primary caretaker as his medical condition deteriorated. In 1939, Soutine and Michaelis spent the summer at Civry-sur-Serein in Burgundy, stranded and forced to go into hiding after the outbreak of war. Soutine was granted permission to briefly return to Paris in 1940, and was separated from Michaelis. In May, Michaelis was trapped in Paris in a roundup of foreign nationals and sent to a camp at Gurs in the Pyrenees. Subsequently, the artist was introduced to another by the Castaings, who felt that he needed a companion. Marie-Berthe Aurenche (1906–1960) was the former wife of surrealist Max Ernst and a devout Catholic. Also known as Ma-Bé, she was able to help Soutine’s flight into hiding at Champigny-sur-Veude. In early August 1943, Soutine was taken from Champigny into Paris for surgery. The journey took two days and Soutine died following an operation for a perforated ulcer.

Despite his success with collectors, Soutine did not receive unanimous support from critics. Increased attention led to a discussion of his art that frequently referred to his status as a Jewish immigrant from eastern Europe. In 1928, the art critic Waldemar George wrote an essay devoted to Soutine, questioning:

“What is the meaning of this art, whose origin is undefinable, which knows no law, no fatherland, and no directive principles, and is linked to no tradition? An exiled or a barbarian’s art? I challenge anybody to trace the filiation of Soutine’s art…The curse that weighs on his oeuvre extends to his whole race… A muted wind of revolt blows through his dramatic oeuvre (Isn’t the wandering Jew the archetype of the eternal rebel?… What can we say of this déraciné [uprooted person]?) … Soutine owes nothing to France, except his thirst for internal balance, which, thank God, he will never reach . . .” (George, 158).
Installation view of the exhibition Chaim Soutine: Flesh. The Jewish Museum, NY. Photo by: Jason Mandella

One might consider Soutine as uprooted, but he was profoundly influenced by pictorial models that he sought out in Paris and was by no means critical of the “great tradition” of western art. In the carcasses of the 1920s, Soutine was attempting to strengthen his position as a creator, to overcome his vulnerability as an outsider. In 1931, the painter Jacques-Emile Blanche mentioned Soutine in an article that argued French art had been derailed because of the influence of the École de Paris (Blanche, 297–298). Both Blanche and George searched for Soutine’s Jewish identity in his art, while revealing their own and the French public’s fears. Blanche’s anxiety was that French culture would be overtaken by foreigners. George, on the other hand, tried to defend Soutine in his response to Blanche, in the same year:

“M. Jacques-Emile Blanche lets out a loud cry of alarm. M. Blanche is a man too subtle and especially too skeptical to obstruct the danger … Talent is one thing. The influence of a work is something else. Soutine has just entered the path of achievements. Never has his ‘form’ been so good. He never spoke with so much ease, fullness. And, yet, his professed interest in hallucinated art, mysticism tainted with hysteria; the master of Smilowitchi is visibly diminishing. This progressive evolution of taste is first manifested in young painters, those hypersensitive beings who record the smallest transformations of the physical atmosphere of their time. The public cannot be aware of these variations of moral and emotional temperature. Also, the witnesses, even the most far-sighted and the most insightful, wave the scarecrow Soutine, as if this attribute of fear was still able to exert an influence on the destinies of French painting.” (George, 429–32)
Jean Louis Forain, Business is Bad (Les Affaires vont mal), June 4, 1898. Photomechanical print on paper. The Jewish Museum, New York. Forain’s caricatures in “Psst…!” magazine fueled antisemitic suspicion in France, especially during the Dreyfus Affair (1894–1906).

Demographically, the Parisian Jewish population was transformed during Soutine’s lifetime in France. Within twenty years, eastern European Jews came to outnumber native French Jewry in a ratio of three to two (Green, 59). The French public was wary of this changing population. Yiddish was frequently utilized in neighborhoods with large populations of Eastern European Jewry, such as Belleville and the Pletzl. Antisemitism escalated through the 1920s, peaking in 1931, when the global economic crisis following the Wall Street Crash of 1929 reached France (Metzler, 256). As a consequence of the Crash, the art market collapsed in both America and Paris, deepening the divide between the École de Paris and the École Française (Golan, 8–87). Additionally, after Hitler’s 1933 ascent to power in Germany, tens of thousands of German-Jewish refugees arrived in Paris. Antisemitism steadily increased during this time. A small, bi-lingual booklet appeared, “containing good advice for those who had fled intolerance and persecution searching for refuge in France.” It was published by the Comité d’assistance aux réfugiés and was distributed to foreign Jews:

1. Do not commit yourself to political activities prohibited by the law of our country.
2. Keep an eye on your outfit.
3. Be polite and discrete.
4. Be modest. Do not speak highly of the qualities of your country of origin you think France lacks. “Back home everything was better” is a shocking phrase to French ears.
5. Learn to express yourself in French quickly. Do not speak out loud. If you speak a foreign language, avoid using it in public, in the street, on public transportation, or on the terrace of a café.
6. Respect all our laws and customs… We want you to be useful and we ask you to help us by following these advices which are your duty to the French community welcoming you.
(Metzler, 256)

By 1933, Soutine was painfully aware of his precarious political status. He traveled to the countryside more and more to heal his ulcer and to escape Paris. After Gerda’s deportation, he was no longer comfortable in the city. From the early 1930s, Soutine returned to carcasses, but these paintings contrast greatly with those of the 1920s. Instead of the morbid images of the 1920s, Soutine produced images illustrating his own empathy, reflecting his physical and political vulnerability through animal imagery. He reverts once more to fowl to create Plucked Goose (c. 1933). By contrast with the earlier carcasses, the goose engages with the onlooker. With one bloodied eye, the bird stares out at the viewer, shedding several crimson tears. The painting forces the spectator to identify with the dying animal. The goose is not explicitly slaughtered; the only indication of its injury is its contorted neck, split in half and visually divided from its body with brushstrokes of vivid reds. The stark white of the feathers is emphasized by Soutine’s usage of vibrant purples, oranges, and reds, in order to designate the under layer of skin, the pink belly of the plucked, exposed, and dying goose. Unlike any of his previous carcasses, Soutine commiserates with the dying animal, in a churning sea of deep blue and brown paint.

Installation view of the exhibition Chaim Soutine: Flesh. From left to right “Plucked Goose” (c. 1933), “The Donkey” (1934), “The Bull” (1941–42), and “Sheep Behind the Fence” (1940). Photo by Jason Mandella

In 1934, Soutine created The Donkey. The animal is positioned with its head sullenly bowed. Soutine alters his color usage in each painting, though the background is in darkness. Madeleine Castaing describes a similar instance, in which Soutine painted a horse:

“Come with me, I beg you, I’ve found such a lovely horse, it looks almost human. I’d like to paint it; I’ll never find such a lovely animal again!” We set off to the ends of the earth, and there in the wood was a family of showmen — children, parents — all sitting on the grass eating their lunch. In the clearing stood the gypsy caravan and the unyoked horse, exhausted, its coat covered with mud and sores too. “Its eyes are human eyes, they express such suffering and exhaustion, it hasn’t the strength left to lie down and wait for a merciful release” (Castaing, 15–18).
Installation view of the exhibition Chaim Soutine: Flesh, with photograph of Soutine at Chatel-Guyon in central France (Puy-de- Dome), 1928.

The atmosphere of The Donkey differs greatly from Soutine’s Plucked Goose. Unlike the goose, the donkey remains alive, although in solitude. Soutine’s creative empathy is in the feelings of loneliness, secluded from Paris, while the pathos of the goose seems prophetic of the fated and dying painter. The Sheep Behind the Fence (c. 1940) raises its head and bares its teeth, separated from the viewer in a further allusion to Soutine’s seclusion. The living animals share a common theme of Soutine’s period of hiding: helplessness. No longer struggling between the status of the executioner or the victim, as he once did, Soutine accepts his fate. In 1933, Soutine’s identity shifted. He no longer desired to position himself as a powerful creator or executioner. In The Sheep Behind the Fence, Soutine attempts to protect himself, while in The Donkey, the painter evokes his tragic desperation, recalling his childhood memory of animal slaughter:

Once I saw the village butcher slice the neck of a goose . . . I wanted to cry out, but his joyful expression caught the sound in my throat, this cry, I always feel it here. . . . When I painted the beef carcass it was this cry that I wanted to liberate. I still have not succeeded.

In 1933, Soutine liberated himself from that cry. The artist visually slices the neck of the bird and finally releases his sublime identification with the butcher and the slaughtered. In this powerful intuition of emotional sympathy, Soutine is no longer divided, overturned, as had been the child, by the executioner’s expression of joy. The world becomes the executioner through the artist’s acceptance of the vulnerable animal’s fate.

—Ori Hashmonay, Guest Contributor,
with Stephen Brown, Curator, the Jewish Museum

The present text is an adaptation and revision of parts from Ori Erna Hashmonay, “You for death, me for Chaïm: the carcasses of Chaïm Soutine,” [B.A.] Senior honors thesis, Department of Art, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, April 2, 2018, sponsor, Dr. Daniel Sherman (thesis advisor).

Works Cited

Blanche, Jacques-Emile. “La fin de la peinture française,” L’art vivant no. 103, 1931, pp. 297–298.

Castaing, Madeleine. “Memories of Soutine,” in Chaïm Soutine, 1893–1843, edited by Esti Dunow, Klaus Perls, and Maurice Tuchman, Taschen, 2002, 15–18.

Waldemar George quoted in The Jew in the Text: Modernity and the Construction of Identity. Tamar Garb and Linda Nochlin, New York, Thames and Hudson, 1996.

George, Waldemar. “Lettre ouverte,” “La fin de la peinture française,” L’art vivant no. 103, 1931, pp. 429–32.

Golan, Romy. “The École Française versus the École de Paris: The Debate about the Status of Jewish Artists in Paris Between the Wars.” The Circle of Montparnasse: Jewish Artists in Paris, 1905–1945, edited by Kenneth Silver and Romy Golan.

Green, Nancy. The Pletzl of Paris: Jewish Immigrant Workers in the “Belle Epoque.” New York, Holmes & Meier, 1986.

Gerda Michaelis was twenty-seven when introduced to Soutine, who named her “Mademoiselle Garde” in consideration of her protective role towards him. Garde’s memoirs were collected as: Garde [pseud. Gerda Groth, née Michaelis, also, Marie Dupas] Mes années avec Soutine, edited by Jacques Suffel, Les lettres nouvelles, edited by Maurice Nadeau, Denoël, 1973.

Metzler, Tobias. Tales of Three Cities : Urban Jewish Cultures in London, Berlin, and Paris. Wiesbaden, Harrassowitz Verlag, 2014.

Miller, Henry. My Life and Times. New York, Playboy Press, 1975.

Szittya, Emile, Soutine et Son Temps. Souvenirs et documents. Paris, Bibliothèque des arts, 1955.

Chaim Soutine: Flesh is on view at the Jewish Museum through September 16, 2018. Buy tickets to the final weeks of the exhibition online.


The Metamorphosis of Chaim Soutine: IV. Europe in Darkness and Shadow was originally published in The Jewish Museum on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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