Anastasiia O. Simferovska. A Jewish Painter between Reform, Judaism, and Zionism: Wachtel’s Portrait of Abraham Kohn

A Jewish Painter between Reform, Judaism, and Zionism: Wachtel’s Portrait of Abraham Kohn   

By Anastasiia O. Simferovska

(Lviv National Academy of Arts)

Source: Judaica Ukrainica 4 (2015): 53-66

Publication date: December 1, 2015

Publication type: article

Language: English

Full text:



Taking the posthumous portrait of Rabbi Abraham Kohn as a case study, Simferovska explores this work of art as a significant and distinct historical document. She reconstructs a historical background of the key-visual symbols that the painter Lemberg, born Wilhelm Wachtel, utilized for his portrait of Kohn. The essay seeks to answer why the Zionist-oriented Wachtel decided to create a portrait of the famous 19th-century Reform rabbi, considered a martyr among the Progressive minded Galician Jews. Furthermore, the essay explains why Wachtel made the image of Rabbi Kohn into a Judaic icon. By offering a multifaceted analysis of Kohn’s portrait, the author of the essay provides a meticulous historical reconstruction of the relations between the painter, his deceased model, and the Jewish community that was contemporary to Wachtel. Methodologically, the essay brings together art history, East European Jewish history, and comparative religion.

Keywords: Ukrainian-Jewish discourses, Wilhelm Wachtel, Jews in Galicia, Jews in Lviv



Bussgang, Julian J. “The Progressive Synagogue in Lwów.” In Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry. Vol. 11, Aspects and Experiences of Religion, ed. Antony Polonsky, 127–153. London: Littman Library Of Jewish Civilization, 1998.

Hlembots’ka, Halyna. “Ievreis’ke obrazotvorche mystetstvo u Halychyni.” I 58 (2008): 236–262.

Manekin, Rachel. “Review on Michael Stanislawski Murder in Lemberg.” AJS Rewiew 32 (2008): 214–217.

Shanes, Joshua. Diaspora Nationalism and Jewish Identity in Habsburg Galicia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Stanislawski, Michael. A Murder in Lemberg: Politics, Religion and Violence in Modern Jewish History. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007.



DOI 10.14653/ju.2015.04