Sotheby's NY Presents: Important Judaica and Israeli & International Art
CONTEMPORARY ART FROM RENOWNED AND EMERGING ARTISTS
Contemporary art, photography and video is well represented in year’s annual auction, with works by Ori Gersht, Michal Rovner and Zoya Cherkassky on offer. Of particular importance are two photographs from Adi Nes’ Biblical Stories series in which the artist has re-imagined Biblical heroes as contemporary figures. Israeli-born artist Ronen Sharabani will be making his auction debut with his Real Estate Candies video work, executed in 2016 (est. $10/15,000).
IMPORTANT JUDAICA FROM THE COLLECTION OF SHLOMO MOUSSAIEFF
Sotheby’s is honored to offer Important Judaica from the collection of the late Shlomo Moussaieff this December. A renowned jeweler, Mr. Moussaieff was equally known as a passionate connoisseur and collector of Judaica and Antiquities.
The breadth of Mr. Moussaieff’s interest in the material and spiritual culture of the Jews is evidenced throughout his collection of important books and manuscripts. The auction features a remarkable collection of ketubbot, including an early and exceedingly rare marriage contract from the port city of Livorno (est. $50/70,000, left). The highly decorated marriage contract, with its border illustrating the twelve tribes of Israel and the equal number of zodiac signs, is extant in only 15 copies and can be found on only a very few of the lavishly decorated ketubbot produced for wealthy Jewish families in the Veneto region. Further highlights also include an incredibly diverse selection of 35 Kabbalistic manuscripts (the largest collection to ever come to auction), autographed by some of the most important Rabbis, including preeminent kabbalist Rabbi Hayyim Vital (1542-1620) and Rabbi Israel of Medzhybizh (1700-1760).
The metalwork section of the Moussaieff collection features a significant variety of forms of menorahs and Hanukah lamps, some of exceptional size, such as a 72-inch Monumental Polish brass Synagogue Hannukah Lamp circa 1890 (est. $30/50,000, left). There is also a rare group of Middle Eastern Torah Tiks – one of the largest ever to come to auction – and a selection of German silver and silver-gilt Kiddush cups, many appropriate inscriptions.
The collection and sale is led by Simeon Solomon’s 1871 painting, Carrying the Scrolls of the Law (est. $150/250,000, right) Depicting a young man deep in a moment of religious sanctity, this celebrated paining by the artist stands at the pinnacle of the history of Jewish art of the 19th century. A version of this work in watercolor was chosen as the cover image of the Jewish Museum’s landmark exhibition, The Emergence of Jewish Artists in Nineteenth– Century Europe.
Outside of the Moussaieff collection, the auction offers a strong selection of important American Judaica, led by the first Jewish Prayer book printed in the United States (est. $180/240,000, left) published in New York, 1761. This pioneering American edition contains the evening liturgy for the High Holy Days and was the first English translation of the Jewish liturgy issued for a Jewish audience. The present work is exceedingly scarce, as only three other complete copies are known to exist – all of which are held by institutional libraries. The sale also includes an original ink and watercolor drawing from 1827 documenting the construction of B’nai Jeshurun, the second synagogue founded in New York and the third-oldest Ashkenazi synagogue in the United States (estimate $4/6,000).
The silver portion of the sale includes a fine Bezalel Silver Large Hanukah Lamp, circa 1910 (est. $20-30,000), and two pairs of Torah Finials from the Amsterdam Jewish Community. A fine silver-gilt Torah Crown from Venice, early 18th century, displays the strength of Italian chasing in the Baroque period (est. $180/220,000). Hanging Lamps are also featured, including an Important Silver Figural Sabbath lamp from Northern Italy circa 1775, mounted with eight figures (estimate $100/150,000) and a Rare German silver hanging Sabbath Lamp from Augsburg, Germany in the late 18th century (est. $250/350,000, right).
IMPORTANT BOOKS & MANUSCRIPTS
The printed works in this year's sale are led by one of the most highly coveted Hebrew Incunabula, a Mishneh Torah by Moses Maimonides printed in Soncino, 1490 (est. $150/200,000). Also featured is an exceptionally fine copy of theSecond Rabbinic Bible, Venice: Daniel Bomberg, 1524–1525 (est. $50/70,000), and the first edition of the Hasidic masterworkLikkutei Moharan (Gleanings of Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav), Ostraha: 1808. An outstanding group of 18th century illustrated manuscripts also appear in the sale, including a 1771 Haggadah written by Netanel ben Aaron (est. $75/150,000) and an exceptional group of ￼￼￼ Esther scrolls, including a Magnificent Esther Scroll Written and Illustrated by Aryeh Leib ben Daniel of Goray, 1737 (est. $70/10,000) and a Richly Decorated Esther Scroll from Baghdad, circa 1850 (est. $20/30,000).
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