The Michael & Judy Steinhardt Collection at Sotheby’s

You can glean an indication of a people’s essential soul through its art; you can tell an artist’s darkest fears or highest aspirations through his/her artistic creations. From its very beginning, Jewish art has been heavily influenced by its homestead environs, the cultural milieu, and the political and economic times of each era. Regardless of the external influences, however, the unique Jewish en-soulment  lives within every creation like a burning spark in each work. You can view these spiritual sparks in a collection of Judaica currently on partial display at Sotheby’s (1334 York Avenue, New York, NY 10021 – Tel: 212.606.7000). The full collection of 400 lots, collected by Judy and Michael Steinhardt consists of rare Jewish art spanning from antiquity to the 20th century and will be auctioned on April 29th, 2013.

Among the collection’s items one can find The Frankfurt Mishnah Torah, published sometime around 1457 to 1465, it is a beautiful set of eight illuminated manuscripts (another five volumes are in the Vatican). As Sotheby’s press release states, it is by far the most profusely illustrated manuscript of MaimonidesMishna Torah and is expected to command between $4.5 to $6 million. An item that is currently on display is this beautiful North German Bronze Lion Aquamanile, from the 12th century…


One of only four known Aquamanilia (hand washing vessels) with a medieval Hebrew inscription.

One of only four known Aquamanilia (hand washing vessels) bearing a medieval Hebrew inscription.

Other items I was privileged to see are a German psomim bixl, used for havdallah at the end of Shabbos, a very ornate Torah crown…

An Italian Torah crown, circa 1730

An Italian Torah crown, circa 1730

The detailed work and beautiful lettering on the crown, speak eloquently of the artist’s reverence for his subject and mastery of the delicate nuances of his raw material. Also displayed is a Torah breastplate of rare workmanship unequaled today…

Intricately designed, unique in its beauty.

Intricately designed, unique in its beauty.

Other items displayed include 2 Ketubas – like the one below, for example:

The full ketuba above and the actual written contract on the bottom...

The full ketuba above and the actual written contract on the bottom…

An unusual lot also on display is The Rouchomovsky Skeleton: A Russian Gold Articulated Skeleton in a Silver-Gilt Coffin, from Odessa 1892-96 and estimated at $150,000 to $250,000…

Very small, yet incredibly detailed.

Very small, yet exquisitely detailed.

This collection affords more than just a glimpse at the collective Jewish soul, to see it and even more to own a piece of it connects a person to centuries of Jewish hopes, dreams, tears and laughter. The complete collection of 400 lots will be on display at Sotheby’s (1334 York Avenue, New York, NY 10021 – Tel: 212.606.7000) from April 24 trough 28, while the auction itself will take place on the 29th of April.



Judaica at Sotheby’s – Valmadonna Trust Library

1 Response to “The Michael & Judy Steinhardt Collection at Sotheby’s”

  1. 1 Meyer F
    February 2, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    Nicely written. The post’s author obviously has a feel for antique Judaica, as evidenced by this and other posts on similar subjects. All around, I like the variety of subjects covered in this blog, I will be coming back again and again.

    The auction referred to above sounds very interesting and I will definitely check out all 400 items to be exhibited at the end of April,


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