Photo credit: Abbey House and Leeds City Museum
Solomon J Solomon exhibited 'The Chief Rabbi' as no. 315 at the Royal Academy in 1906 https://bit.ly/2VUkj99 [but this is not that portrait]. Is this by a lesser-known artist? Worth establishing who else painted this important man.
We have requested a better sized image from the Collection. From the existing image Alistair Brown at Art UK recognised writing just about visible when the colours are tweaked in the bottom right hand corner of the image, attached, reading possibly ?F. NA?T? A listing of the likenesses section from the sitter’s ODNB entry is also attached.
There was an artist called Mrs Estelle Nathan who exhibited at the RA in 1907 no 180 from 19 Egerton Gardens
She began exhibiting there in 1898 including a portrait of George E Nathan [from 37 Barkston Gardens] no 1328
dates 1871-1949 see wikipedia
Also exhibited at the Whitechapel
The National Portrait Gallery has a file on her
Here is Nathan's Wikipedia entry:
The style is similar to these pictures by Nathan:
It would also appear that Estelle Nathan was Jewish.
Estelle Nathan was married to George Emmanuel Nathan in 1897 (Marriage Index: Apr-May-Jun), and prior to her marriage, she used her maiden name, Estelle D’Avigdor. Therefore, this Art UK work, if confirmed to be by her, could be more precisely dated as “1897-1911”.
As Estelle D’Avigdor, she had works in the Royal Academy catalogues of 1890 (no 89, no 560), 1895 (no 457), and 1896 (no 1299). She also illustrated an 1891 publication that was compiled by Horace Stewart - “History of the Worshipful Company of Gold and Silver Wyre-drawers, and of the Origin and Development of the Industry Which the Company Represents” (available in full from Semantic Scholar here: https://tinyurl.com/2ndh48fc).
In the Preface to his publication, Horace Stewart wrote:
“A debt of gratitude is likewise due from the Author, to Miss Estelle d'Avigdor, daughter of one of the youngest of the liverymen, who has voluntarily devoted her artistic talent to designing the series of historical and technical illustrations which adorn this work; thereby greatly enhancing its importance, and adding to the interest which, it is hoped, may be taken in the many quaint and remarkable incidents narrated in its various chapters.”
I just wanted to note for the record that, although some of the Art UK entries for works by Barnett Samuel Marks (1827–1916) state that he did not exhibit at the Royal Academy, he is listed in the Royal Academy’s 1881 catalogue as B. S. Marks at no 582, an oil painting, “The Rev. Dr. N.M. Adler, Chief Rabbi”.
Perhaps, someday, someone might check this reference at the London Metropolitan Archives. https://search.lma.gov.uk/LMA_DOC/LMA_4180.PDF
“Printed material and miscellanea: miscellanea
“Plaque from a painting of the Very Reverend Hermann Adler Ph.D. L.L.D.” 1 artifact. 1909”
In the London Evening Standard, of Saturday 29th May 1909, in a report on his 70th birthday celebrations, it was reported that a portrait of Adler had been painted by Mayer Klang and that "a replica of which will be hung in the Council Chamber of the United Synagogue."
Building on your comment, Kieran, a Google-search led me to an article (“The Week in London”) in the Reform Advocate of July 3, 1909: https://tinyurl.com/c8m8r4da (see pp 9-10 of the link)
“Then followed the formal gift of the members of the United Synagogue and other Synagogues throughout Great Britain and Ireland, consisting of a portrait of the Chief Rabbi, to be placed in the committee-room of the United Synagogue, painted by Mr. Mayer Klang, a replica of the portarait [sic] painted by the same artist, to be presented to Mrs. Adler, and an album suitably bound and illuminated, and signed as widely as possible. The balance of the presentation fund is to be devoted to some communal object the nature of which will depend upon the amount collected and the views of the Chief Rabbi. An address congratulating Dr. Adler was then read by Lord Rothschild.”
The problem is this does not really look like Adler, who wore glasses and had different eyes:
Our sitter looks more like Israel Brodie, who was Chief Rabbi from 1948-1965:
This might, however, be neither Adler nor Brodie but a different rabbi. What is the current identification based on?
An Art UK portrait of Israel Brodie does not look like the Wikipedia portrait of him (or this portrait of Hermann Adler).
“Sir Israel Brodie (1895–1979), KBE, Chief Rabbi of Great Britain and the Commonwealth (1948–1965)”
Joseph Oppenheimer (1876–1966)
The 1909 Mayer Klang portrait, I quickly realised on Friday, is far too late to represent Adler in the relatively youthful manner that we see. And I fear the same is true of anything Estelle Nathan (born 1871) would have been able to produce.
Attached is a composite of photos, etc, of Adler between c.1886-9** (aged 47-50) & 1904 (aged 65), Even in the earliest you can see that his beard is much bushier than the well-trimmed one worn by our sitter, and has a fair amount of white in it - especially in the clearly visible pale patch between mouth and chin (quite absent in ours). The amount of white progressively increases thereafter, and it isn't necessary to take things on to 1909.
[**Date as per NPG - but even if wrong, it must be before June 1891 when published in the Illustrated London News.]
So I initially thought our portrait must date from well before the late 1880s - perhaps even from 1879 when (aged 40) he took over the duties of his ailing father as the 'delegate Chief Rabbi' - but I couldn't see any earlier images of him to confirm that. Then an advertisement for the Strand Magazine of March 1893 popped up on the BNA which promised "portraits of celebrities at different times of their lives", one of them being Adler, and miraculously the right issue was on Archive.org here: https://bit.ly/3jTrzKh. I've extracted two of the portrait prints (not, sadly, the original photos) that date from c.1876 (aged 37) and c.1883 (aged 44), and prepared another composite with the cabinet photo from 1886-9 (aged 47-50) photo - I've set this alongside a detail from our portrait (attached).
Try as I may, I cannot make our portrait fit in with the sequence at any point: as he gets younger the beard gets darker and more importantly wilder and wispier - certainly not the dense, neatly-trimmed one of our sitter, and probably not the same colour either. Oh, and another thing - every single image of Adler from his 20s onwards shows him in spectacles. Which leaves me to conclude, reluctantly but inescapably, that the portrait that's the subject of our discussion cannot be of Hermann Adler, either before or after his appointment as Chief Rabbi in 1891 (and in truth I've been worrying about the identity for a while).
Sorry, Jacinto - I spent so many hours preparing those posts I missed you coming to the same conclusion with a lot less fuss! But I decided to post anyway, by way of confirmation.
Even apart from the facial hair and spectacles, the faces are simply different. Adler had a softer, kindlier face; our sitter's face is harsher and more stern, and I expect the hair is red or reddish.
The accession number suggests this was acquired or catalogued in 1990. What does the collection know about provenance, and again, what is the current identification of the sitter based on?
The Jewish Museum in London probably has records of the likenesses of all the Chief Rabbis of the 19th century as well of many of the leading London Rabbis of the second half of the 19th century
Yes, Martin, some such source should be contacted for its input. It seems clear this is not Adler, and Brodie may be too late.
Here is a list with some images of Chief Rabbis:
Leeds has the third largest Jewish community in the UK, after London and Manchester, with multiple synagogues. This could be a Leeds rabbi.
Actually, I think the portrait looks a lot like the c. 1883 photo of Hermann Adler that is shown in Osmund’s second composite (15/08/2021 @ 06:05). There is a pale area around his left eye - he probably removed his glasses for the sitting.
It is unlikely that he would have had his likeness painted while his father was alive (he passed away in 1891). And, I could not find a reference to the work in the enormous “Catalogue of the Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibition, Royal Albert Hall, London, 1887” (on the Cambridge University Press website). I don’t have access but could search in the small search box at this link. https://tinyurl.com/dn5pdajj.
However, please see this write-up on Hermann Adler from the “Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Adler, Hermann” on Wikisource.
“Adler's seventieth birthday in 1909, which synchronised with the jubilee of his ministry, was publicly celebrated with general enthusiasm. A portrait in oils, executed by Mr. Meyer Klang, was hung in the council chamber of the United Synagogue, Aldgate. A replica was presented by the Jewish congregations to Mrs. Adler, and on her death passed to his elder daughter.
Of two portraits in oils, besides that mentioned above, one painted by Mr. B. S. Marks, in 1887, belongs to Adler's younger daughter, Mrs. Ruth Eichholz; the other, executed by Mr. Solomon J. Solomon, R.A., in 1908, was presented by (Sir) Adolph Tuck to the Jews' College. A cartoon by 'Spy' appeared in 'Vanity Fair' in 1894.”
I cannot see this as Adler, Marcie. If he never removed his spectacles for numerous other images of him, why would he do it for this one? But again, it is a different face.
Does the costume allow for the sitter to be a rabbi rather than a Chief Rabbi? If so, I agree with Jacinto that this portrait might well depict one of the many rabbis of Leeds — given that it has found its way into the collection of that city’s Museums and Galleries.
I have seen photos of the controversial Louis Jacobs, who was a leading London rabbi but never Chief Rabbi, in the same sort of dress:
That seems a good match!
We will ultimately need, most likely, input from some relevant Jewish source(s), unless the collection has information that could lead to the right sitter.
Louis Jacobs dates pobably rule him out 1920-2006
I was not suggesting this is a portrait of Jacobs, only making the point that our sitter's dress need not mean he was Chief Rabbi.
Paintings appear to be a very small and minor part of the huge holdings of this collection or storage facility, and it seems quite unlikely that this picture was purchased or purposely acquired. I expect a local origin is most probable, so we need to know what provenance or acquisition information the collection has, as well as whether there is anything on the back of the picture.
In 1910 Florence R Emanuel exhibited a medallion of Adler as no 1737 at the Royal Academy
I doubt we can get much further until we hear from the collection. If it does not have sufficiently useful information, Jewish sources in Leeds and potentially London will have to be tried.
We know the dress in the picture was not confined to the Chief Rabbi, but could it be worn by any rabbi or only some?
I found this regarding rabbinical dress in the UK:
It means ours is an Ashkenazi as opposed to Sephardi rabbi, but it could be any rabbi.
That's very helpful, Jacinto.
Jacinto, re: your 15/08/21 posting, I have asked the Collection if they answer any aspect of your question here. David
The Collection have commented: 'It was transferred to us by the Manchester Jewish Museum in or before 1990 when they decided to refine their collecting area and concentrate on the Manchester Jewish community and so transferred all the Leeds material to us. The only information that we've seen says that the material was deposited in Manchester by the United Hebrew Congregation in Leeds, but we don’t know when that was. Most of the material was from the various city centre synagogues that had been closed and amalgamated. For some of the objects we have information about which synagogue they originated from, but with others that link seems to have been lost (probably when items were stored together as the synagogues closed).'
The Collection have added: 'We think that the sitter was suggested at a later date by a researcher or member of the Leeds Jewish community at an event. Another earlier suggestion for the identity of the sitter was possibly Chief Rabbi J.H. Hertz of Belgrave Street Synagogue, Leeds but this seems to have been superseded. We think that it came to us in 1990 as just a portrait of an unnamed rabbi. We think that there is nothing marked on the painting itself.'
Joseph H. Hertz was Chief Rabbi 1913-1946, but I do not believe he was based in Leeds but lived in London. Like Adler, he wore spectacles, and I doubt he is our sitter. That suggests that the United Hebrew Congregation in Leeds should be asked for assistance.
This is from the UHC Leeds website (uhcleeds.com):
The UHC is an independent orthodox synagogue operating under the auspices of the Chief Rabbi of the British Commonwealth. We are an amalgamation of a number of older shuls, dating back to the middle of the nineteenth century, which finally came together on one site on Shadwell Lane, Leeds in 1986, creating an inspiring purpose built shul.
The contact page is below:
I have not been following this discussion so now come to it fresh. At the very start, a tiny image of the signature was posted. Getting a better photo of the signature might help firm up the artist. As usual, a photo of the back of the canvas and of the front including the frame could help.
To start, can Art UK get an enlarged close-up of the signature at the best available resolution?
I'm afraid that the Collection do not have a better sized image. I have gone back to the 500 x 700 pixel image we do have and had another attempt at getting something better. To me '_E_NA_T_2_'. However, not really better at all, and that might be a dot after the first visible letter (maybe more like an F. and there could be other letters to the left of the E (or F).
If the sitter is from Leeds, it might be profitable to consult the Leeds Spring Exhibition catalogues. A view as to the date should be obtained from a costume historian at the Jewish Museum or elsewhere
Such clerical garb was probably in use for many decades, so I doubt it would be especially helpful in terms of dating.
Looking at the signature in the bottom right corner of the image posted by David yesterday (13 Sept. 2021), I seem to see the name Naftali, which is a good Old Testament name still in common use. But even if correct, it does not seem to help much, as I can't find any reference to a likely artist of that name (forename or, less commonly, surname). Perhaps it is the name of the sitter (if it is actually there). Or is my eye just seeing it because I'm expecting a Jewish name?
It would be desirable for the collection to examine closely that presumed signature and, if possible, take a better close-up photo of it for posting here. It definitely looks like lettering, not an optical illusion. I also toyed with "Naftali" for the same reason as William, but I think that is not the name written.
From the image, I think I can make out P NAV... and therefore could it be the artist Philip Naviasky?
According to David Buckman, he was born and lived in Leeds and was of Polish extraction, and he painted portraits of the Jewish community (as can be seen in his works on Art UK already):
Please see the attached article from The Westminster Gazette of November 20, 1919, that mentions Philip Naviasky’s “Portrait of a Rabbi”. It was item 120 at the exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters.
The Ben Uri Art Gallery shoul be asked about him
Why does Leeds date this as before 1911 ? Naviasky would only be a
Adler died in 1911 -is that the reason?
Here is a portrait of a rabbi by Naviasky, from 1912, with a clear signature:
Martin, I know the Director of the Ben Uri Gallery and will email her and ask for her thoughts on Naviasky. David
Yes, Martin, the dating is no doubt based on the assumption that this is a portrait of Adler, so it can be discounted.
Naviasky seems highly likely - he was born and based throughout his life in Leeds (bar training at both the RA Schools & the RCA).
Sorry, Andrew has already pointed that out.
Here is a recent article about Naviasky by Daniel Chapman:
“Trying to Walk Through a Brick Wall: Philip Naviasky Making Art in Leeds” (August 9, 2021)
According to a user on Ancestry, Naviasky married Millie Astrinsky in 1933. A user on the Geni website included a tiny photo of Millie’s father, “Rabbi Yehuda Leib Ostrinsky” of Leeds, “also known as Astrinsky”. (On Ancestry, in Leeds in the 1939 England and Wales Register, he is “Juda L. Astrinsky”, born on March 20, 1889).
Could this be Naviasky’s father-in-law? I have attached a composite. I think the ear, eyes, nose and beard are quite similar to the ones in the Art UK work.
Marcie, your date appears to be wrong. see below:
The 1889 birth date was on the 1939 England and Wales Register entry, attached, not the 1871 birth date shown on the Geni record. The Geni record does mention Millie though, and the 2021 article mentions that Naviasky’s wife was “local tailoress, rabbi’s daughter and artist, Miss Millicent Astrinsky”. The Geni record also mentions the rabbi’s wife Sarah. I have attached her probate entry - it indicates that she died on February 25, 1920.
Here is a website for the grave of Rabbi Judah Louis Astrinsky in Leeds. It indicates that he died on “04 April 1946, age 64” [born about 1882]: https://tinyurl.com/2h5rdd3e
The next grave over belongs to “Mrs. Astrinsky” who died on “27 February 1920, age 35”. https://tinyurl.com/kxs5u4hh
Please note these two additional works by Naviasky that are depictions of rabbis:
From the Christie’s website:
“Portrait of a Rabbi, seated half-length”
From the Hartleys Auctioneers website:
“Portrait of a Rabbi”
does the Leeds Art Gallery have the date of its acquisition of this painting? was it 1990 or earler? Did the Gallery purchase it or was it a gif?
Aviva Astrinsky is at present Library Director at YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York, where she was curator of an exhibition in 2001
There was an article in Colour, XII on Naviasky, and aone man show at the Harris Museun and Art Gallery, Preston in 1934
The National Library of Ireland has a book by LP , An introduction to the work of Philip Naviasky.
The Leeds Library catalogue is allegedly searchable on line
Martin, see David Saywell's comment of 26/08. Most likely, the picture came from a Leeds synagogue, was deposited in Manchester then was given back to Leeds, but dates are sketchy.
Other than both having a beard, I'm afraid I can see no resemblance between the photo (from Geni) said to be Rabbi Yehuda Leib Ostrinsky/Judah Louis Astrinsky and our sitter...and even the beards would appear to be different in both colour and shape.
awaiting a list from Leeds of Rabbis recorded in Leeds 1900-40