OBJECT OF THE MONTH - FEBRUARY - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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Portrait of Nelson Glueck

Bernard Safran (1924-1995), Portrait of Nelson Glueck, oil on canvas, painted for Time magazine cover, United States, 1963. 41.253.

In a month when we celebrate our nation’s presidents, it seems fitting to turn to one of the most notable leaders of our College-Institute, Nelson Glueck.

Nelson Glueck (1900-1971) was the president of Hebrew Union College from 1948 to 1971.  During his time as president, Glueck played an integral role in the merger of Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati with the Jewish Institute of Religion in New York, which created the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion that exists today.  Glueck is probably best known for his work in biblical archaeology. Many artifacts that were found under his direction are displayed in the Cincinnati Skirball Museum’s permanent collection.  Glueck and his archaeological career were featured in a cover story in Time magazine in the issue published on December 13, 1963. 

The Cincinnati Skirball Museum’s permanent collection houses the original oil portrait of Dr. Glueck that appeared on the Time cover, depicting him in front of his biblical excavations at Tell el-Khuleifeh.  He is wearing a keffiyeh (a traditional Middle Eastern headdress made from a square scarf and usually made of cotton) as well as a brown Bedouin mantle over his Western button down shirt.  To the right of Glueck in the portrait is a depiction of a statue of Hadad, an ancient Canaanite rain and storm god. 

Bernard Safran was an American high realist painter whose portrait subjects for Time magazine covers included Queen Elizabeth, Pope John XXIII, and United States presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon.

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