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Moritz Daniel Oppenheim

Moritz Daniel Oppenheim (born January 7, 1800 in Hanau, died February 26, 1882 in Frankfurt am Main) was a German portrait and historical painter. He was the first Jewish painter to achieve a worldwide reputation

Moritz Daniel Oppenheim grew up in a petty-bourgeois Jewish-Orthodox milieu. From the age of four he visited the voluntary Jewish primary school, the Cheder, there he learned Hebrew and Jewish prayers. In 1806 Oppenheim experienced the invasion of the imperial-French army Dissolution of the Hanauer Ghetto Oppenheim visited the Hanau electoral drawing academy from 1810, where he received drawing lessons from the painter and copper cutter Conrad Westermayr as well as painting lessons from his wife Henriette in Hanau

Around 1814 a copying activity can be found in the paintings collection of the Count Karl Christian Ernst of Bentzel-Sternau in the Emmerichshofen Castle, which he probably received on mediation by Westermayrs. Here he became acquainted with the works of old Italian masters. He was thus the first Jewish artist to have an academic education Led the work of the Finance Minister of the Grand Duchy of Frankfurt at the age of fourteen. Probably at that time a portrait of the Baruch Eschwege, a Hanau merchant in the uniform of the voluntary Kurhessian hunters against the background of Philippsruhe Castle, was given a two-year training course At the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Munich where he was a pupil of Johann Peter von Langer and his son Robert von Langer. Afterwards, he returned to Hanau. In 1820, his artistic talent led him to the Städel Art Institute in Frankfurt

In 1820, Oppenheim went to Paris and became a pupil of Jean-Baptiste Regnault. In 1821 he took part in the concours des places at the École des beaux-arts. Between 1821 and 1825 Oppenheim stayed in Italy, including Rome, Florence and Naples In Rome, he made an acquaintance with artists from the circle of the Nazarenes around Friedrich Overbeck and Bertel Thorvaldsen. In 1824 he took part in the drawing competition of the Accademia di San Luca in Rome, won the first prize, which was immediately recognized by his Jewish origin Naples, he finally met his future patron Baron Carl Mayer von Rothschild, for whose family he was active as a portraitist and art agent in the following years

After his return to Frankfurt am Main (1825), he established himself as a historian, genre and portrait painter of the emancipated Jewish middle class. In addition to his work for the Rothschild family, he also produced portraits of eminent Jewish figures such as Heinrich Heine, Ludwig Borne and Gabriel Riesser

Moritz Daniel Oppenheim was, in various respects, an outstanding artist personality. The vocation of being a painter was not a matter of course for a Jew in the first half of the 19th century. Painting as a part of the visual arts was viewed skeptically in the Judaism of the time Christian Church, in addition, the prohibition of images, which was derived from the 2 commandments, particularly applied to this art genre, even though Jews represented important patrons and art collectors. Oppenheim was considered “the first Jewish painter” because of his academic training Painters of his time, such as the Nazarene brothers Johannes and Philipp Veit, did not turn to Christianity, even though it was suggested to him. Oppenheim distinguished himself, with no precedent, and unlike most Jewish painters of the 19th century to the beginning of the Holocaust, In important U Mfang topics that were devoted to Jewish life, Jewish education, identity formation, patriotism and Jewish piety

Although not a radical innovator, his paintings, with their ghetto scenes, milieus studies, everyday life and the celebration of Jewish festivals, were an artistic expression of the Jewish emancipation themes, which he exaggerated in a completely Christian – bourgeois sense His image of Lavater and Lessing with Moses Mendelssohn, he addressed this emancipation by the example of one of the most important disputes of the Jewish Enlightenment

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This struggle for a threefold identity as an artist, a citizen and a Jew permeates Oppenheim ‘s entire lifework, so that all works are equally committed to the emancipation and the ideals of the bourgeoisie. In the 1820s to 1850s this is documented by portraits of well – known Jewish citizens and the genre scenes Late works, these are the result of the debate about the significance and value of Jewish life traditions

Oppenheim’s secular work, especially his portrayal of portraits, was seen among Jews and non-Jews alike, and Goethe himself could be portrayed by him. On the other hand, with his Jewish themes, he gained a special and lasting recognition in the Jewish community Family life, which appeared as a late work from 1866 in numerous, constantly reapplied light prints, until well into the 20 century large sales

The work list documents more than 700 works, almost one third of which has been lost. A large part of his works were lost when his grandson, art collector and painter Alfred Oppenheim (1873-1953) was forced to emigrate to London during the Nazi era However, his property, including the return of a Jewish volunteer from the liberation wars, remained almost completely in Frankfurt Already half a year before the eleventh ordinance of the Reichsbürgergesetz, Oppenheim’s property, which was stored at a forwarding agency, was confiscated by the Gestapo in 1941. At Ernst Holzinger’s instigation, The head of the Städel Art Institute, some of the paintings were purchased before the auction for various Frankfurt museums in 1943. In the post-war period, Oppenheim succeeded in financial compensation, but he died before this was finally carried out. The heirs of Alfred Oppenheim sold the remaining ones Parts of the 1958 estate to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem

In addition to the pieces that have entered the art trade and international museums, there are today larger collections with paintings by Moritz Daniel Oppenheim at the Jewish Museum Frankfurt am Main and the Historical Museum Hanau Philippsruhe Palace The Ludwig Rosenthal Hall of the Hanau Museum is completely the same Works of Oppenheim. On a regular basis, pictures from the rich Hanau collection, including Der Bleichgarten, Mignon and the Harfner, the museum visitors and a self-portrait

The tomb of Oppenheim is located at the old Jewish cemetery Rat-Beil-Strasse in Frankfurt and is preserved In the course of the reconstruction of the Hanauer Freiheitsplatz, an abstract large monument of the artist Robert Schad was erected for the Hanau-born painter before the new “Forum” (Oppenheim portrait of Pascal Coupot) His birthplace in today’s Nordstrasse in Hanau can not be located exactly because of the large-scale destruction of the city in the Second World War and the subsequent redesign

Works:
Oppenheim’s studies of Jewish life, his pictures of Emperor Joseph II and Moses Mendelssohn, and his portraits from life of Ludwig Börne and other contemporary Jewish notables, established his reputation as one of the foremost Jewish artists of the nineteenth century. His Return of the Jewish Volunteer is among his most famous works and was frequently reproduced; others include Mignon and the Harper, Italian Genre Scene, Confirmation, and Sabbath Blessing. All these are characteristic examples of his power of conception and skill at grouping.

The poet Heinrich Heine (1831, Hamburger Kunsthalle)
Return of a Jewish volunteer from the liberation wars to the old custom of his own (1833/34, Jewish Museum New York)
Gutle Rothschild (1836, Jewish Museum Frankfurt)
The Bleichgarten (1842, Historical Museum Hanau, property of the Hanauer Geschichtsverein)
Lavater and Lessing with Moses Mendelssohn (1856, Judah L Magnes Memorial Museum, Berkeley)

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