Stieglitz Collection

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Painting by Maurycy Gottlieb


"In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at dusk, is the Lord's Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the Lord; seven days ye shall eat unleavened bread (Leviticus 23:5-6)."

"Observe the month of Abib and offer a Passover sacrifice to the Lord your God, for it was in the month of Abib at night, that the Lord your God brought you forth from Egypt. You shall sacrifice the Passover offering unto the Lord your God, from the flock and the herd, in the place where the Lord will choose to establish His name. You shall not eat anything leavened with it; for seven days there after you shall eat unleavened bread, bread of distress - for you departed from the land of Egypt in haste - so that you may remember the day of your departure from the land of Egypt all the days of your life (Deuteronomy 16:1-3)."

"And thou shalt tell thy son in that day, saying: It is because of that which the Lord did for me when I came forth out of Egypt (Exodus 13:8)."

The main feature of the Jewish Passover celebration is the festive Seder (order) meal conducted within the family circle, which gradually became fixed in the generations following the destruction of the Temple. The material to be read during the Seder, as well as instructions as to how it is to be conducted, are contained in a compilation called the Haggadah (narration) which has a set text and a specific sequence.

Apart from the addition of piyyutim and pismonim (liturgical hymns) the formulary variations between the Jewish communities of different lands are few and insignificant. The essential part of the Haggadah is the story of the Exodus from Egypt in the form of Midrashic commentary, which integrates Biblical verses and Rabbinic interpretations. This takes the dramatic form of a dialogue, in which the youngest present inquires as to the symbols of the ceremony, asking, "Why is this night different from all other nights?" Discharging his Biblical duty, the father responds, "And you shall relate it to your son."

The Haggadah also contains the kiddush (sanctification) blessing over wine, the various blessings over matzah (unleavened bread) and maror (bitter herb), and the hallel (psalms of praise).

The tradition of illustrating the Haggadah was already known in the Middle Ages and was probably related to the central role of the child at the Seder ceremony. Very few of the older Haggadot have survived. They were lost as a result of the ravages of time and the hazards of the forced migrations which have marked Jewish history. However, a significant number of 18th-century examples remain, in many ways representing a revival of the medieval tradition of Haggadah illustration.

The folk style Haggadah (cat. no.196) recalls the 18th־century Haggadot which were originally meant to grace the table of "court Jews" or wealthy Jews. The artist, Nathanel ben Aaron Halevi-Segal, wrote and illustrated a Haggadah in Hamburg – Altona, using the more linear style characteristic of Moravian and Austrian Jewish artists, a style which reflects the influence of printed Amsterdam Haggadot. The Temple is depicted in these Haggadot as a symbol of redemption and the longing for Jerusalem. The coming of the Messiah is also symbolized by the figure on a donkey and the blowing of the ram's horn, which appears in the background of an illustration of King David,ill. 16r, (cat. no. 196).

Among the special Passover utensils are pewter plates (cat. nos. 197-199), decorated by the same 18th-century artists whose work is also found on scrolls, Haggadot, and other manuscripts. Other utensils in the collection decorated with special Passover inscriptions and motifs are kiddush cups (cat. nos. 194-195), glazed pottery plates (cat. no. 200), and porcelain wares (cat. nos. 201-202).