© succession Helmar Lerski,

Museum Folkwang, Essen

© succession Helmar Lerski,

Museum Folkwang, Essen

New acquisitions

Since 1988, the mahJ has been enriching its collection. These are the most recent acquisitions.

Acquisitions 2019

Georges Jeanclos (Paris, 1933 - Paris, 1997), The Guerry Columns, detail of the capital, France, 1994


Georges Jeanclos (Paris, 1933 - Paris, 1997), The Guerry Columns, detail of the capital, France, 1994

In 2019, the mahJ’s collections were enhanced by one hundred and eleven artworks and artefacts: eighty-four donations (including seventy-three works on paper from Galerie Jacquester donated by Esther Topiol), four permanent loans by the Consistoire israélite de la Moselle and twenty-three purchases: a portfolio of drawings by Issachar Ryback and three small pictures by Alice Halicka at the Millon auction on 26 June 2019 and nineteen objects at the Ader-Nordmann auction on 19 December 2019.


Ram's horn (shofar) and its case, Paris, 1835, mahJ, gift of Jacques Arnold

Ram's horn (shofar) and its case, Paris, 1835, mahJ, gift of Jacques Arnold

An embroidered velvet Torah mantle dated 1728, probably of Germanic origin, found in a storeroom in the synagogue at Thionville (on permanent loan from the Consistoire de la Moselle).

Three early 20th-century rabbi’s jabots in lace and white embroidery from the synagogue at Hayange (on permanent loan from the Consistoire de la Moselle).

A shofar from the oratory of the Fondation Rothschild in rue Picpus, offered, as indicated on its original box, to a Parisian synagogue in 1835 by Solomon, known as Zalman Alcan, son of Elhanan from Frankfurt. Although shofars are quite commonplace objects, it is difficult to date them and this documented one is a rare exception (gift of Jacques Arnold).

A brass kosher plaque of the Association consistoriale israélite de Paris, in the name of Jacques-Henri Dreyfuss, chief rabbi of Paris from 1891 to 1933, discovered in the kitchens of the Fondation Rothschild’s old people’s home in rue Picpus (gift of Jacques Arnold).

A lithograph by Gustave Lévy (Toul, 1819 – Paris, 1894) depicting Moses with the Tablets of the Law. Dedicated to Baroness James de Rothschild, it is one of the very rare Jewish portrayals of the prophet and served as the model for the ivory binding of a prayer book published in Paris in 1857 in the mahJ collection (purchased at auction).

A Passover seder dish made by the Utzschneider & Co pottery at Sarreguemines between 1875 and1900 (purchased at auction).

An Esther scroll created in Fez in the 19th century, mounted on wood inlaid with silver-plated metal in the local tradition (gift of Irène Koch).

An amusing, possibly Egyptian, early 20th-century synagogue regulations in Hebrew, Arabic and French. Prohibiting entry to the synagogue to any bare-headed person – “nor can a handkerchief replace a hat or fez” – showing the influence of western customs in an oriental context (purchased at auction).

Megillat Ester, a Hebrew book reproducing the text of the Esther scroll published in Zürich in 1918 with Jugendstil graphics by Joseph Kaplan and six illustrations by Sigismond Mohr inspired by Assyrian art (purchased at auction).

Haggadah printed in Jerusalem in 1931 with illustrations by Arieh El-Hanani and an olive wood cover created by the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, founded in 1906 by Boris Schatz (purchased at auction).

Historic collections

Claude-Pierre Gouget, History of the Inquisitions, in which is reported the origin and progress of these Tribunals, their variations, the form of their Jurisdiction, and an extract from the Inquisitors’ Manual, Cologne, 1759

Claude-Pierre Gouget, History of the Inquisitions, in which is reported the origin and progress of these Tribunals, their variations, the form of their Jurisdiction, and an extract from the Inquisitors’ Manual, Cologne, 1759

The statutes of the city of Avignon, printed in 1617 in Latin and French with the coat-of-arms of Pope Paul V. A chapter lists the “rights and obligations of the Jews”, confined since the late 16th century to four closed quarters or “quarries” (purchased at auction).

Letters of patent issued in 1760 authorising six Jewish families in Avignon to trade in silk fabrics in Bordeaux despite opposition by the profession’s guilds, bearing testimony both to the attempts by many Jews in the Comtat Venaissin to escape life in the “quarries” in which they had been confined by the popes and their exceptional integration in southwest France before the Revolution (purchased at auction).

History of the Inquisitions […] by Claude-Pierre Gouget, published in Cologne in 1759. Beautifully illustrated with nine copper-etched plates, this book describes the exceptional tribunals in the Middle Ages then those of the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions that particularly targeted the Marranos, Iberian Jews forced to convert to Christianity and accused of “Judaizing” in secret. These courts prompted the Marranos’ mass migration to more welcoming lands such as the United Provinces (the Netherlands) and southwestern France (purchased at auction).

The Tractatus de Juribus Judaeorum by Georg Lochner, Nuremberg, 1741, a legal treatise in Latin and German by a Christian author, with a fine copper-etched frontispiece depicting a marriage, a dying man dictating his will, merchants at their counters and a prisoner being led to the gallows (purchased at auction).

A 1794 leaflet showing Marianne slaying a dragon with a pike and wearing a Phrygian bonnet, in which the deputy André Foussedoire (Issoudun, 1753 – Lausanne, 1820), on a mission in Alsace, is showing his indignation at the infringements of common law committed locally against Jewish citizens (purchased at auction).

A portrait of Lucien Lambert in 1872, aged three, by Piet Van Havermaet (1834-1897), a painter famous in Belgium for his high society portraits. This portrayal of the infant son of a family of Brussels bankers shows the cultural integration of the Jewish bourgeoisie in the 19th century (gift of Hubert and Catherine Lambert).

The Game of the Dreyfus Affair and the Truth, a kind of snakes and ladders game illustrating the affair’s impact throughout French society (purchased at auction).

Three very large 1904 pastel portraits of members of the Hassoun family in Constantine by the teacher Abraham Hassoun (1876-1972): a portrait of himself with his wife, also a teacher, and his son in western dress at Eyn Beïda, and two portraits of them in oriental dress, showing the social ascension of this Jewish family of modest origins whose son, André-Gilbert, then aged two, later attended the Ecole Polytechnique (purchased at auction).

Fine arts

Alice Halicka (1884-1975), Young boy and two women, années 1920, oil on canvas, mahJ

Alice Halicka (1884-1975), Young boy and two women, années 1920, oil on canvas, mahJ

A study by Edouard Moyse (Nancy, 1827 – Paris, 1907), who with Edouard Brandon was one of the first two French Jewish artists to depict specifically Jewish subjects. As in many of the artist’s works, it is difficult to locate this marriage scene in time and space but the costumes could suggest a Maghrebin ceremony, the artist having stayed in Algeria for a long period between 1855 and 1860 (purchased at auction).

An ink drawing by Jules Adler (Luxeuil, 1865 – Paris, 1952) of a young cowherd at Saint-Valbert in 1911. It was shown at the Salon in 1912 as In the Stable and acquired directly from the artist by one of his pupils (gift of François Meyer)

Three small pictures (two oils on canvas and a gouache mounted on card) depicting shtetl scenes by Alice Halicka (Krakow, 1884 – Paris, 1975), a School of Paris artist who arrived in Paris in 1912 (purchased at auction).

In the Shadow of the Past, a portfolio of twelve etchings by Issachar Ryback (Ukraine, 1897 – Paris, 1935) with commentaries by Gustave Kahn. Executed in 1933 in a more serene style, Ryback was returning to the theme of traditional Jewish life in a small Eastern European community that he had depicted ten years before in Shtetl, mayn khoreve Heym, a Gedenkenish (“Shtetl, My Destroyed Home, A Remembrance”) already in the museum’s collection as well as several of the artist’s illustrated children’s books (purchase).

Franck Brangwyn (Bruges, 1867 – London, 1956) produced these three very small etchings in 1930-1931 to illustrate A l’ombre de la Croix (In the Shadow of the Cross), the book by Jérôme and Jean Tharaud on the life of Hungarian Jewish communities first published in 1915 (gift of François Meyer).

The Studio, a small oil on card by the School of Paris artist Esther Carp (1897-1970) (purchased at auction).

Two drawings by Walter Spitzer, a Polish artist born in 1927, depicting a shochet (ritual slaughterer of animals) and a rabbi (purchased at auction).

Seventy-three works on paper donated by Esther Topiol from Galerie Jaquester (a contraction of Jacques and Esther Topiol), which opened in the late 1970s in rue Rambuteau in Paris. The ten artists, half of whom are women, fall into two groups, the first exploring abstraction and expressionism: Colette Brunschwig (11), Liliane Klapisch (7), Jeanne Coppel (3), Félicia Pacanowska (1), Antal Biro (1); the second representing the Israeli art scene in the 1970s and 80s: Anna Shanon (27), Moshe Kupferman (9), Mordecai Ardon (10), Nissan Engel (3) and Joseph Zaritssky (1).

The Guerry Columns, terracotta sculptures by Georges Jeanclos (1933-1997), created in 1994 as a model for a monument commemorating the site of a well at Guerry, a hamlet near Savigny-sur-Septaine into which the corpses of thirty-six Jews were thrown. They were executed by the French militia and the Gestapo on 24 and 26 July and 8 August 1944 as a reprisal for the liberation of Saint-Amand-Montrond by the members of the Resistance (gift of Mathilde Ferrer, the artist’s widow, and his children Elisabeth, Marc and Emmanuel Jeanclos).

Acquisitions 2018

In 2018, 102 works joined the mahJ’s collections (70 purchases and 32 donations), including two collections of several hundred photographs and postcards. The mahJ, with the aid of the Fram and the Fondation Pro mahJ, devoted 68,000 € to acquisitions in 2018 (+210%).

See more on mahJ's acquisitions in 2018

Ceramic tiles, Chemla Pottery (circa 1880-1966), Tunis, circa 1920

Polychrome ceramic, 121 x 68 x 4 cm

Ceramic tiles, Chemla Pottery (circa 1880-1966), Tunis, circa 1920

Polychrome ceramic, 121 x 68 x 4 cm

2018 was a year of major purchases.

These included a “residence permit for a Jew in Lyon” dated 10 May 1782 and recalling the validity until the Revolution of the edict expelling Jews from France promulgated in 1394, an illuminated parchment “for the redemption of the newborn”, photographs of the creation of Tel Aviv, period prints of photographs by Walter Zadek (1900-1992) of Mandatory Palestine and the fledgling state of Israel, several works and documents illustrating Yiddish culture (newspapers, illustrated books, postcards of Yiddish theatre), a poster by Ephraim Moses Lilien (1874-1925), a self-portrait by Emmanuel Mané-Katz (1894-1962), a drawing by Boris Taslitzky (1911-2005) done in secret at Buchenwald in 1945 and complementing the major donation by his daughter in 2017, three posters from the 1970s showing the solidarity of French Jews with the Jews in the Soviet Union.

In September 2018, the mahJ succeeded in acquiring the only panel missing from the exceptional tabernacle (sukkah) bought at auction in December 1988, the first acquisition for the future museum’s collection. Thirty years later, this major exhibit illustrating the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) is now complete. This sukkah with its rare painted decoration was created for a wealthy family in Austria or southern Germany in the early 19th century. Its thirty-seven pinewood panels are set in a frame at the top and bottom. The interior is decorated with a view of the city of Jerusalem, a pastoral Central European scene with a village by a lake, and a shield inscribed with the first words of the Decalogue. With the addition of the sukkah’s sixteenth panel, acquired with the aid of the Fondation Pro mahJ and the Fonds régional d’acquisition des musées, this extremely rare masterpiece and its Germanic landscape are at last complete.   

The mahJ also succeeded in acquiring two collections of photographs (one concerning the Jewish theatre in Moscow and the other the immigration of Moroccan Jews in Israel) and two major postcard collections (one showing the Holy Land and the other Jewish life in North Africa). Four drawings by Henri Berlewi (1894-1967) depicting workers and scenes from traditional Jewish life have further enhanced the museum’s now major collection of this artist’s work. The other acquisitions were wide-ranging: Judaica, including an illuminated marriage contract on parchment from Bayonne (1728), the first from this community to join the mahJ’s collection, a poster dating from the 1930s mobilising French public opinion against the exiling of German Jews, a drawing by Édouard Couturier (1871-1903) mocking the criminologist Alphonse Bertillon’s improbable assertion at the trial in Rennes in 1899 that Alfred Dreyfus could have forged the “bordereau”. 

The year ended with the acquisition of a panel of polychrome ceramic tiles produced by the Chemla Brothers (Tunis, 1920s), complementing the exceptional collection of pottery, models and copper matrixes donated by the Chemla family.

Acquisitions 2017

See more on mahJ's acquisitions in 2017

The first semester 2017 was rich in acquisitions.

Boris Taslitzky, Self-Portrait, 1927
Gift of Evelyne Taslitzky

Boris Taslitzky, Self-Portrait, 1927
Gift of Evelyne Taslitzky

In addition to the Taslitzky donation, Yolande Lévy also donated a portrait, Jewish Student, painted in 1927 by Mané-Katz (1894-1962). The museum’s collections were also enhanced by a 19th-century majolica Seder dish (the ritual feast marking the beginning of Passover) donated by Céline Kichelewski, 20th-century Tunisian amulets donated by Lucette Valensi and Abraham Udovitch, Italian, Tunisian and Ottoman crockery and jewellery donated by Giuliana Moreno, early 20th-century European and North African objects and garments donated by Charles Dahan, Gilbert Touati, Mario Bensasson and Gilberte Kalfon, a prayer shawl bag belonging to the late André Bensimon (dated 1924) donated by the Alliance Israélite Universelle, a Torah case (tiq) from Ghardaïa donated by the Chekroun-Setti family, 19th-century religious objects from a family oratory donated by Gérard Racowski, a copy of La Vie juive by Léon Cahun (1841-1900) illustrated by Alphonse Lévy (1843-1918) donated by Edgardo Cozarinsky, and a Daguerreotype portrait of Dina “Joséphine” Liebschutz (1831-1867) donated by Olivier Meyer. Finally, Isabelle and Olivier Audebert offered the museum a very rare late 13th-century or early 14th-century funerary stela from the medieval Jewish cemetery in Bourges. In excellent condition, it bears priceless testimony to the Jewish presence in France before the expulsions in the Middle Ages.  

Purchases included an early 20th-century case and phylacteries (tefillin), a study on card dating from the late 1940s of the Kigmy, the emblematic Jewish scapegoat figure, by the famous New York cartoonist Al Capp (1909-1979).

The mahJ also successfully pre-empted an original edition of The Golem by Gustav Meyrink (1915) illustrated by Hugo Steiner-Prag (1880-1945), an edition of Haggadah for Passover by Ben Shahn (1898-1969), gouaches and drawings by Alphonse Lévy (1826-1890), Édouard Loevy (1857-1911) and Jules Worms (1832-1924), two more drawings by Alphonse Lévy and the portrait of Isidore Mendel by Émile Lévy (1826-1890), an early 19th-century earthenware plate with the inscription bassar (“meat”), a marriage contract (ketubah) drawn up in Nîmes in 1856, documents concerning the Emancipation and the Dreyfus Affair, photographs by Walter Zadek (1900-1992) of the life of the pioneers in Palestine in the 1930s, and a rare print by Charles Philibert de Lasteyrie (1759-1849), Interior View of a Synagogue.