Auction 89 - Rare and Important Items

"Images of the Tombs of the Righteous" – Wall Plaque with Depictions of Holy Sites in the Holy Land – Haifa, 1886/87

Opening: $1,000
Estimate: $2,000 - $3,000
Sold for: $1,500
Including buyer's premium
Lithographic plaque, titled, in German, "Panorama des heiligen grabestellen von ansehnlische Männer und Profete von heiligen Lande, " and in Hebrew, "Images of the Tombs of the Righteous that are in the Land of Israel, may their merit protect us Amen […] Created by Ya'akov Goldzweig from the Holy Land, City of Haifa, Mt. Carmel, may it be built and established, [Hebrew year] 5647…" Haifa, 1886/87.
Plaque, in the tradition of "Yihus Ha'Avot" plaques, presenting the holy sites and tombs of the righteous in the Holy Land. Plaques such as these were meant to serve as schematic maps of the tombs of the righteous and the holy sites. Originally, they were intended as something akin to a guidebook to Jewish pilgrims arriving in the Holy Land. Early on – from the 16th century onward – the plaques developed from visual aids serving a supposedly practical purpose into objects bearing mystical qualities; they were hung on walls in private homes, symbolizing the Land of Israel and one's longings toward it. Often, a depiction of the Place of the Temple in Jerusalem would appear at the center. The plaques were copied one from another over centuries. Some of the plaques were created in the Land of Israel to be sent to the Diaspora as gifts – expressions of gratitude for donations given in support of the Jewish inhabitants of the Holy Land. In the Diaspora they were copied by local printers. The foreign copies would then make their way back to the Land of Israel only to be recopied, creating an endless cycle.
The plaque is divided up into sixteen squares, each containing a schematic, symbolical depiction of one of the Promised Land's holy sites: the Cave of the Patriarchs, Rachel's Tomb, "the Prophet Hosea next to Safed, " the Tiberias Hot Springs, Tomb of the Prophet Samuel, Tombs of the Kings of the House of David, "the Holy City of Safed, " the Tomb of Joseph the Righteous in Nablus, the Tomb of Rabbi Meir Ba'al HaNess, the tombs of Rabbi Akiva and his students in Tiberias, the tombs of Rabbi Simeon (Bar Yohai) and his son Elazar "next to the Holy City of Safed, " Tomb of Rabbi Johanan HaSandlar, "this is the Holy City of Jaffa, " Tomb of the Prophet Elisha, Cave of the Prophet Elijah and Tomb of Rabbi Avdimi of Haifa, "this is the Holy City of Haifa" and inside the same square, "this is the site of the altar of the Prophet Elijah, " and finally, "this is the Holy City of Sidon."
The plaque was printed by Ya'akov Goldzweig (1843-?) in Haifa. Goldzweig later moved to England, where, in 1893, he published a beautiful, colorful, and detailed map of the Holy Land ("Palestine or the Holy Land from Biblical Times to the Present Day"). He also published a Hebrew work entitled "Letter for the End of Days" (Manchester, 1896), that calculated the time of the Redemption according to the writings of Rabbi Chaim Vital (which would have the Messiah arriving in the Hebrew year 5666 [1905-06]). In this same work, he also praised the renewal of Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel.
See: The Center for Jewish Art (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Item No. 11635 (from the Gross Family Collection). The plaque does not appear in the National Library of Israel (NLI).
45X35 cm. Fair condition. Tears, some mended with acidic adhesive tape. Open tears to edges of sheet, not affecting print, most mended with four strips of paper pasted onto edges of sheet on verso. Stains and damp damage.
Reference: Rachel Sarfati, ed., "Offerings from Jerusalem: Portrayals of Holy Places by Jewish Artists, " exhibition catalogue, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 2002.
Jewish Ceremonial Art
Jewish Ceremonial Art