Description: EMILE LÉVY 1826 - 1890 LA FETE DES CABANES (THE FEAST OF THE TABERNACLES) signed and dated E. Lévy 1850 (lower right) oil on canvas 32 ½ by 44 ¼ in. 82.5 by 112.3cm. Painted in 1850.
Provenance: Private Collector, Nice
Purchased from the above by the father of the present owner in 1971
Notes: This monumental composition, painted by the nineteenth century French Jewish artist, Emile Levy, is an exceptional example of the technical virtuosity used to explore Jewish subject matter. Biblical scenes had long been central to western painting tradition, but the present lot comes from a school of Judaica genre painting born in the mid 1800's which sought to extol the spiritual values of the faith. Fellow French nationals Edouard Moyse and Edouard Brandon, Moritz Daniel Oppenheim in Germany, and Solomon Alexander Hart in England can be considered the first generation of Judaica artists to illuminate the nobility of the Jewish heritage through their works.
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In The Feast of the Tabernacles, Levy reflects on the rich traditions of Judaism. The finely rendered scene depicts the family patriarch reciting a Sukkot blessing . He stands in the center of a dramatically lit scene, surrounded by his family. He holds a raised wine glass and foliage which is meant to represent the Bible's four species. An etrog is placed on the table covered with a white cloth. On the right, a young child holds an open prayer book, while another, on the left, poignantly clutches his cloak in a display of tenderness and warmth. Each figure appears to be immersed in the sanctity of the holiday.
Emile Levy was born in Paris and studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts there. His Jewish background influenced him in choosing Jewish subjects, such as his painting, Ruth and Naomi, and the present lot.