Towns of Silk and Silver
Architectural Motifs in Italian Jewish Art
The image of the ancient Temple of Jerusalem retained its numinous quality well after the soldiers of Titus demolished the sacred building. Architectural shapes related with its image are to be seen in a variety of Italian Jewish items from the Renaissance to the Rococo periods: Torah finials and amulets, Hanukkah lamps; Scrolls of Esther (Megillot) and marriage contracts (ketubbot). Embroidered on precious textiles, engraved on silver, or painted on fine parchment, the image of Jerusalem/Temple developed throughout the ages creating an indissoluble link with the real and imagined Jerusalem and the Italian towns where the Jews lived.
The exhibition aims to show how architectural motifs – related with the image of Jerusalem and its Temple and their symbolic meaning – are represented in a medium that is not architectural. This practice has existed from early periods, and is an important component of Jewish artistic tradition.