Auction 89 - Rare and Important Items

Yosef Zvi Geiger – Papercut – "Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates" – Safed, 1906/07

Opening: $1,500
Estimate: $2,000 - $4,000
Unsold

Hand-painted papercut depicting pomegranate trees, created by Yosef Zvi Geiger (1870-1944). [Safed], 1906/07.
Papercut depicting two pomegranate trees bearing fruit and flowers, with a crouched lion between them. A semicircular strip from leaf to leaf, connecting the two trees, is inscribed (in Hebrew) with a verse from the Biblical Song of Songs: "Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates" (Song of Songs 4:13). The papercut is dated on verso: "Year Tarsazayin" (Hebrew year 5667 = 1906/07).
Yosef Zvi Geiger was renowned in his hometown of Safed as a multi-talented scribe and painter. Among his extant works are splendid "Mizrah" and "Shiviti" plaques, calligraphic and illustrated title pages for "donors books, " certificates for donors and greeting letters, and papercuts in the Eastern European style, including special papercuts for the Shavu'ot holiday and papercut sukkah decorations.
24X21 cm. Good condition. Minor stains and blemishes. Suspension holes.


Yosef Zvi Geiger (1870-1944), native of Safed. One of the most prominent public figures in Safed. He served as general secretary of Safed's "Kolel" institutions, and his home was a regular meeting place for the "gaba'im" (managers) of the various local Kolelim and congregations. The Yishuv's foremost newspapers – including Havatzelet, HaLevanon, and HaZefirah – regularly published his articles. He also served as a scribe for the Kolelim, and assisted illiterate members of the community by writing letters on their behalf. Geiger was renowned in Safed for being both a gifted scribe and talented painter, entrusted with producing beautifully scripted documents. Among his extant works are splendid "Mizrah" and "Shiviti" plaques, calligraphic and illustrated title pages for "donors books", certificates for donors and greeting letters, and papercuts in the Eastern European style. His contemporaries recall the beautiful "ketubahs" (marriage documents) he produced for the city's couples, decorated with gilt lettering and floral and vegetal designs; and the artworks he created to adorn the walls of the local synagogues, including gilt-lettered plaques. Among his many special talents was his ability to inscribe micrographic texts onto grains of wheat; he could fit several verses from the Bible onto a single grain. In the (Hebrew) book of memoirs by Yosef Zvi's grandson, Benjamin Geiger, entitled "One of the Elders of Safed, " Benjamin writes that his grandfather also specialized in engraving in stone (and inscribed several headstones in Safed). Benjamin also relates that Yosef Zvi was a lover and champion of the Hebrew language, and in his efforts to promote the language he would put up signs with words in Hebrew on the walls of study rooms and yeshivas throughout the town, so that children would get to know these words. He personally taught the language to his children and grandchildren, ensuring they would become entirely fluent.

Category
Jewish Ceremonial Art