The Boris Schatz Collection at HUC-JIR

Boris Schatz, Who Will Pity You, Oh Jerusalem, and Who Will Give You Peace?, bronze relief, ca. 1920, Skirball Museum, HUC-JIR/Cincinnati

On view through February 27, 2014

Shlomo-Zalman Dov-Baruch Schatz (1867-1932), who later changed his first name to Boris, was a renowned sculptor and founder of the Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem. He was born in the town of Vorno, near the Lithuanian city of Vilna and studied at Vilna’s School of Drawing and later received work as a drawing teacher. The Jewish sculptor Mark Antokolsky had a strong influence on Schatz’s work and on his decision to specialize in sculpture. Schatz came to believe that art should have a high degree of realism that expressed the authentic “Jewishness” of the characters it depicted. He was involved off and on with the Zionist movement. His most important work, Mattathias the Maccabee, is known today only in photographs. In 1905, in what was then Palestine, Schatz founded what is now the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem.

When Will Wonders Cease, Skirball Museum, HUC-JIR/Cincinnati

In 1926, philanthropist Joseph Schonthal of Columbus, Ohio, made a generous gift to Hebrew Union College of a group of bronze reliefs, oils and sepia paintings by Boris Schatz, in memoryof his wife Hermine.  These works had previously constituted the "Boris Schatz Gallery" at the Bezalel School. The works on view are excellent examples of Schatz's style, which combined elements of classical painting and sculpture with Jewish themes. The exhibition includes images of biblical figures, ceremonial observance, and cultural life, as well as celebrated personages such as beloved HUC-JIR professor Gotthard Deutsch and Isaac Mayer Wise, father of Reform Judaism in America, and works that reflect contemporary history of the period.

“Schatz is better known as the founder of the Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts than for his own work as an artist,” says Abby Schwartz, Interim Director of the Skirball Museum. “I am delighted to be able to bring together in one space these works in a variety of media. This is an exciting opportunity to explore Schatz’s artistic versatility and his contributions as a sculptor and painter.”

Baal Teshuva, Skirball Museum, HUC-JIR/Cincinnati 

At the time, the Jewish Daily Bulletin called the collection “one of the first conscious attempts in modern times at the creation of a specifically Jewish art, and considered to be of significance from a historico-cultural aspect.” In addition to the works belonging to the Skirball Museum, this exhibition includes two ivories from the collection of Regine Weiss Ransohoff, two wood reliefs from the collection of Rabbi Tom and Joani Friedmann, and a bronze medallion from the collection of Morton and Jo Ellen Spitz.

Several programs will be offered in association with the exhibition.  Those interested in the opening reception or special programs may make a reservation with Jenny Mendelson at jmendelson@huc.edu or by calling 513-487-3098.

In the Media:

  • "Works of Boris Schatz Collection Brings Life of Artist to Life at HUC-JIR" in the American Israelite. Read >
  • Abby Schwartz, Interim Director of the Skirball Museum, was interviewed on Cincinnati Public Radion (WVXU). Listen >