Object of the Month - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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June 2020

Bronze Relief - Moses Jacob Ezekiel

Moses Jacob Ezekiel (1844-1917) Israel, 1904 Bronze relief Cincinnati Skirball Museum

If this Object of the Month seems familiar, it’s because we’ve featured it before, about 6 years ago! We are bringing it back this month because new research has revealed some interesting facts about Moses Jacob Ezekiel, who lived briefly in Cincinnati, that we wanted to share.

Samantha Baskind, Ph.D., professor of Art History at Cleveland State University, is working on a book in which she is assessing Moses Jacob Ezekiel. She has been selected as a 2020 research fellow by the National Endowment for the Humanities, which provides funds for scholars to take on a year’s studies in culturally and artistically significant areas. Baskind conducted some of her research at the Skirball as well as at The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives.

Our former text label for Ezekiel’s Israel (a small version of the original), in the Skirball’s collection describes Ezekiel as the winner of the Berlin Royal Academy of Fine Arts coveted Prix de Rome in 1873 for the original bronze relief, which no longer exists. The real story? Ezekiel won the Michael Beer Prix de Rome, an award specifically earmarked for Jewish artists to study in Rome for one year.

Another myth that Baskind has debunked is that Ezekiel was knighted. He used the title “sir” on his business card because he felt it was the easiest way for potential patrons to understand that he was bestowed several prestigious honors in his lifetime, including the Cross of Merit for Art and Science from George II, Grand Duke of Saxe-Meiningen in 1887; the Golden Cross of the House of Hohenzollern by Emperor William II, German emperor and king of Prussia in 1893; and the title of Caviliere Ufficiale della corona Italia by King Victor-Emanuel III of Italy in 1906.

We look forward to the publication of Dr. Baskind’s book and to further revelations about this expatriate artist with Cincinnati connections!