Monday, July 19, 2010

Images of Jews by Christians - Art and Representation

Over the past few days at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Study, I have had time to spend with Sara Lipton from SUNY Stonybrook.  The time together has been delightful in several ways but principally because Sara has done such an excellent job of rapidly reviewing how art is not just a reflection of culture but of how art shapes culture.  --

Sara has demonstrated her breadth of competence in numerous ways - but principally by presenting a huge breadth of primary and secondary images and literature for review on art and images from about 1000 CE to 1500 CE. 

One of the images central to her review is the image I linking here  - an Exchequer Receipt Roll from 1233 that is a caricature of Isaac of Norwich - a Jew who bribed the king in order to not pay taxes - and who became one of the wealthiest persons of his day.  As a result, in Sara's interpretation of this image, the exchequer of the king was caricaturizing Isaac and the other Jews who were being taken advantage by the King.  This says, Sara is when the "hooked nose" of the Jew truly first began - so far as we can tell.  And, in fact, the "hooked nose" was not yet central in stereotypes but only emerges after this image.

This has been only a small portion of the many things shared - and the numerous images reviewed - by Sara - but a key small part of our several days together.

Her work has been informative and enlightening to me in several ways as I have come to see and appreciate Medieval Art - both sanctioned and "graffiti" art - and how the images of the Jew  shaped over time and only emerged over decades of stereotyping.  I had known this before - but am able to "see" it and connect the history in art in new and more deliberate ways!  Solid scholarship by Sara!

A great series of days for thinking about Jewish-Christian Relationships - especially as reflected in Christian images and art.

Posted via email from Recent Reading & Reflections: Collecting Random Thoughts In No Particular Order

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