Italian Jewish Art

Beauty, elegance and astounding attention to detail combine to form a magical synergy that imbues Jewish objects made in Italy. The Jewish tradition of enhancing a commandment by using especially beautiful objects reached its peak in Italy, where artistic values, an aesthetic sense and technical skill in art were widespread and better developed than elsewhere. Italian Jews managed to put the greatest achievements of Italian art at the service of their faith and tradition, joining the material side of artifacts with the most spiritual aspirations.

Although there has been a Jewish presence in Italy for more than 2000 years, the period from the Renaissance to the Risorgimento (fifteenth to nineteenth centuries) was a time of especially intense Jewish artistic activity, supported by wealthy patrons and marked by the production of ceremonial objects of extraordinary artistic value.

The Jews of Italy were part of the spirit of Italian art. They used the typical stylistic motifs of their times to decorate sacred objects and everyday utensils. Italian Jewish art is a unique blend of contemporary artistic modes and Jewish content. The cosmopolitan character of the Jewish communities in Italy was dominated by the Italian style, although different groups (Italian, Sephardic, Levantine, and Ashkenazi) continued to prefer certain types of objects or decorations.

The permanent exhibit, Made in Italy: the Material Side of Spiritual Objects is arranged according to materials and techniques: ornate metalwork in the first room, textiles in the second, carved wooden furniture in the third, and hand-decorated parchments in the fourth.