No auction at Kestenbaum and Company would ever be complete without some art.
There were quite a few art items – in this auction – ranging from illustrated books, to paintings, to kiddush cups, to beautifully written, superbly decorated meguillos and more, my personal favorite among the illustrations was Isidor Kauffman‘s set of color plates of chassidic life… Lot 243:
KAUFFMAN, ISIDOR. Complete set of Sixteen large plates, reproducing the artist’s work. Introductory German text by Rabbi Dr. H. P. Chajes. Each plate individually matted.
Original decorative portfolio, light wear. Lg. Folio
Vienna, 1925 $3000-$5000
As a painter Kauffman’s work is of considerable historical value, they are documents of a time gone by, they bring us aspects of the shtetl that was, a portrait of life forever snuffed out by the Nazi hordes whether in Galitzia, Poland or the Ukraine. With a sensitive, loving eye, Kauffman sought to reproduce every nuance of the people and objects he portrayed. There is life in every face, there is movement in every shape…
While there was certainly better art at this auction, Lot 359 attracted my attention me as the facial expression and pose showed me a Rov struggling with an halachic problem, or trying to find a new insight into a hard sugya. One can almost “see” the thoughts going through the mind of the one painted…
(RABBINIC PORTRAIT). Contemplation. Oil on canvas. signed upper right (undecipherable) Framed 16 x 17 inches.
20th century. $1000-1500
LARGE DUTCH BRASS CHANUKAH LAMP. Prominent drip-pan encloses cast openwork lamp, the upper-section with for elongated freurs-de-lis, large servant light attached at center over central rectangular plaque with inscription: “For the Commandment is a Lamp, the Teaching is a Light (Proverbs VI:23) 9.5 x 12 inches.
circa 1700. $15,000-18,000
A very beautiful, intricately decorated silver bound prayer book, Lot 398…
SILVER BOUND PRAYER BOOK. Hebrew Festival Prayer-book. Printed in Venice by Stamperia Bragadina in 1750.
Embossed overall with Baroque Style decoration, including swirls and foliage. Upper coverwith central vignette of the sign of the Levite; rear cover of rampant lion aside tree with crown above. Pair of clasps and hinges. Height: 7.5 inches. Kassel 1770.
Jewish art, whether a painting, whether ceremonial is a document of a time, past or present, that either passed or is fast passing through. It is a silent witness to what was, what is and… what could still be.