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Bookplate of Maximilian Goldstein (Signed)

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Bookplate of Maximilian Goldstein (Signed)

FINE ART PRINTS. Lwów, circa 1935. Frontispiece to Goldstein’s important illustrated volume on the culture and art of Polish Jewry.

Price: $550

Arthur Szyk created this bookplate for publication opposite the title page of the first edition of the important book, Kultura I sztuka ludu zydowskiego na ziemiach polskich [Culture and Art of the Jews of Poland], written by his friend Maksymiljan [Maximilian] Goldstein and Dr. Karol Dresdner. Goldstein, a 20th century authority on Polish Jewry, was a direct descendant of the “TaZ” (i.e., Turei Zahav), Rabbi David HaLevi (d.1667, Lemberg/Lwów), who is well-known for his indispensable commentary on the Shulchan Aruch.

In the upper left of the image is a three-towered stone castle with a single lion rampant within its large arched gate: the coat of arms of the city of Lwów, a vibrant Jewish center from the 13th century to the Holocaust. Because the Jews of Lwów sponsored much of Szyk’s work throughout the 1930s, the artist often incorporated the city’s heraldic symbols into his work. However, in this case, Szyk included Lwów because it is the Goldstein’s ancestral home.

Two inscriptions clearly explain the purpose of the image. In the upper right, an open scroll reads, in Hebrew: “From the library of Mordechai Goldstein of Lwów, descendant of the Turei Zahav”. (Goldstein’s Hebrew name was Mordechai.) At the bottom of the image, a cartouche flanked by a pair of lions reads, in Polish: ‘From the library of Maksymiliana Goldsteina [Maximilian Goldstein]’.

Like the famous Renaissance painting “The Ambassadors”, by Hans Holbein the Younger, the drawing communicates the identities of the main figures through physical objects and symbols. Two religious Jews—wearing the traditional peyot (side locks), peltz (fur-lined coat), and shtreimel (the fur hat worn over the kippah on Shabbat)—are shown from the waist up. The men, who are clearly learned and well-to-do, wear lush costumes of an indeterminate period and style. Their raised right hands indicate that they are engaged in conversation. The man on the right, his face in three-quarter profile, extends his left hand to give an object to the man on the left, who faces the viewer directly. This seemingly simple exchange is a demonstration of Szyk’s mastery of iconography: the object is an inkwell, and the men are Rabbi David HaLevi (i.e., the “TaZ”) and Maximilian Goldstein. By passing along his inkwell, the TaZ—gone for centuries but still alive in spirit—transmits the legacy of the written word to his descendant and worthy successor, Goldstein.

Bookplate of Maximilian Goldstein. Fine art print. Lwów, Poland, circa 1935. Sheet measures 10 inches x 7 inches, image measures 3 3/4 inches x 2 3/4 inches inches. Plate signed “Arthur Szyk, Wilno [Vilna] 33”. Additionally Signed “Arthur Szyk” in pen directly below image. Marginal soiling but otherwise Very Good Condition.