Exhibit Information

Jewish Museum

Address 1109 Fifth Avenue @92nd Street
New York, NY 10128

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Phone Number 212-423-3200

Website http://www.thejewishmuseum.org


Opening: 11 MARCH 2011 - Closing: 26 JUNE 2011





Mantua, italy, 1737
Ketubbot, which typically record the Bridegroom's Obligations to his Bride—in case of Death or Divorce—have been integral to Jewish-Marriages for Millennia. They were kept in the homes of Married-Jews living in the West, under Christian-Governance, or in the East, under Muslim-Rule.


Corfu, Greece, 1725
Thirty of the finest of the Ketubbah-Collection of the Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary have been chosen for the current exhibition at the Jewish Museum. From one of the earliest-known decorated-documents [twelfth century] to recent creations, these exquisite Marriage-Contracts provide a wealth of information on the Artistic-Creativity, Cultural-Interactions, & Social-History of the Communities in which they were created.
Livorno, Italy, 1807


The largest number of Ketubbot in the exhibition are from Italy, where the Art of the Decorated-Ketubbah found its most beautiful expression—during the 17th & 18th-centuries—under the influence of Renaissance & Baroque Art.

Bordeaux, France, 1776

Also included are magnificent Marriage-Contracts from Afghanistan, Egypt, India, Iraq, Iran, Morocco, Persia, Syria, & Turkey, each absorbing the Visual-Language of the Surrounding-Culture.

Isfahan, Iran, 1885


In addition, visitors can see examples from Croatia, France, Greece, Israel, the Netherlands, Ukraine, & the United States.


Herat, Afghanistan, 1867
The Marriage-Contracts in this show represent the great diversity & range of Jewish-Settlement throughout History. They offer a fascinating look at the lives of Individual-Couples, varied Marriage-Customs, & the spread of Artistic-Styles through Commerce & Trade.


Included in the exhibition is a fragment of a rare 12th-century Marriage-Contract from Egypt.


Demascus, Syria, 1885
A 1764 Ketubbah, the earliest-known decorated Marriage-Contract from Baghdad, features elaborate-designs on decorative-paper from Augsburg, Germany, indicative of the commercial-ties that bound far-flung Jewish-Communities together.


An 1885 Contract from Damascus includes vivid-colors & lush Floral-Imagery, echoing the Blessing bestowed on a couple as they stand under the Bridal-Canopy: "Grant perfect joy to these loving companions, just as You made your Creations joyful in the Garden of Eden.”

New York City, USA, 1911


Also on-view is a distinctive 1749 Ketubbah from Venice, featuring the Twelve-Signs of the Zodiac & an intricate Love-Knot that has no Beginning nor End, a design-element borrowed from Italian Folk-Culture.


Ben Shah, New Jersey, 1961
In unusually-romantic Engagement-Articles, the Bride & Groom "agree to conduct their mutual life with love and affection, without hiding or concealing anything from each other; furthermore, they will control their possessions equally."


Hand-decorated Ketubbot began to go out of fashion in the late 19th-century, but were revived in the 1960s, with highly-individualized Texts & Ornamentation—perhaps as part of the renewed-interest in exploring Jewish-Identity.


An example of this trend is paper-cut-artist Archie Granot’s 1999 work, which shows his personal style & technique for Jewish-Ritual-Works, distinguished by multiple-layers of Cut-Paper.


The exhibition also includes a 1961 Ketubbah from the Collection of The Jewish Museum by artist Ben Shahn, created more as a work-of-art than a Usable-Contract. Its design shows his fascination with Hebrew-Calligraphy, including a Red-Stamp, containing all the letters in the Hebrew-Alphabet. This image came to be Shahn’s Personal-Emblem.


Kettubot were not merely Legal-Documents but also became splendid works of art. Beginning with the first simply-decorated examples from Medieval-Egypt, they were frequently embellished with Decorative-Borders & Fine-Calligraphy.

Jerusalem, Israel, 1999


Over time, the Ornamentation became increasingly-elaborate. By the 17th-century, they were richly-decorated, with Figurative, Floral, Architectural, & Geometric-Designs. Regional Stylistic-Traditions developed, emanating from the two major-centers of Ketubbah-Ornamentation, Italy & the Middle-East.


[Video of Curator Sharon Liberman Mintz showing the Artworks soon.]

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