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Painting Nostalgia: Jewish Portraits at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Presented by Simona Di Nepi, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Curator of Judaica, Museum of Fine Arts Boston. Kate Clarke Lemay, interim director of PORTAL and acting senior historian at the National Portrait Gallery, will moderate the Q & A.

In the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston are three compelling portraits of Jewish sitters. Although painted by different artists and in different contexts, “The Talmudist” by Jacob Binder, “Hannah” by Isidor Kaufmann, and “Jewish Man Reading” by Edouard Brandon share an often-neglected common trait: they were all made by Jewish artists who had found success in the wider, secular society through other subjects and genres. What drew these cosmopolitan, secular artists to deeply traditional Jewish sitters and scenes? How did depictions of Jewish life fit into their broader production? What do these works tell us about the journey of Jewish artists working in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries?

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