Portraits from Vienna: The rabbinical subject and the female artist

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A series of life portraits of the Hasidic rebbe Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn (1880–1950) rendered by Jewish female artist Gertrud Zuckerkandl throws new light on the modern rabbinical portrait. Gertrud Zuckerkandl, the daughter-in-law of the art patroness Berta Zuckerkandl and the daughter of the psychoanalyst Wilhelm Stekel, rendered four life portraits of the sixth dynastic leader of the Belarusian Chabad dynasty in the fashionable Purkersdorf Sanatorium in Vienna in 1935. These four portraits are first and foremost “pretty,” rendered in a delicate hand and in what would have been seen as a feminine colour palette of pastel pinks, lavenders, and blues. Zuckerkandl's portraits reveal not only a fascinating story of Hasidic cosmopolitanism in the 1930s, but the challenges that female Jewish artists faced at the time in Vienna. While literary accounts of Hasidism dictate strict gender separation and Viennese art critics castigated women artists as incapable of capturing the interior life, these four portraits reveal a far more complex story on both accounts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-64
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Modern Jewish Studies
Issue number1
Early online date2015
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes

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© 2015 Taylor & Francis.


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