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Derfner Judaica Museum

Gilbert Pavilion Gallery  | Derfner Judaica Museum | Past Exhibitions

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Derfner Judaica Museum
Sunday-Thursday 10:30 AM – 4:30 PM

Located in the Jacob Reingold Pavilion


Lithography in Leningrad: Soviet Graphic Arts in the 1950s and 60s
May 18—August 17, 2014

Boris Ermolaev (Russian, 1903-1982),
Mothers, 1961,
lithograph, 24 ¾ x 18 ½ in.,
The Art Collection at The Hebrew Home at Riverdale

Alexander Vedernikov (Russian, 1898-1975),
Still Life with Striped Scarf, 1960,
lithograph, 24 ½ x 18 3/8 in.,
The Art Collection at The Hebrew Home at Riverdale

Gregory Israelevich (Russian, 1924-1999),
Owl and Hourglass, 1960,
lithograph, 24 3/8 x 19 ¼ in.,
The Art Collection at The Hebrew Home at Riverdale

Alexandra Yacobson (Russian, 1903-1966),
Snegurochka (The Snow Maiden), 1960,
ithograph, 24 3/8 x 18 3/8 in.,
The Art Collection at The Hebrew Home at Riverdale

The Hebrew Home at Riverdale is pleased to announce its latest exhibition, Lithography in Leningrad: Soviet Graphic Arts in the 1950s and 60s, which will be on view from May 18—August 17, 2014. The exhibition features 37 lithographs created by nine official artists at the state-run Leningrad Experimental Graphics Workshop in the Soviet Union in the late 1950s and early 60s. The lithographic medium was first used in Russia in the 1810s, but had been invented in Germany around 1796. A mechanized process, lithography allowed for the economical production of prints as well as other commercial uses, such as advertising. The lithographs featured in this exhibition exemplify a period in the Leningrad Workshop when artists sought to create prints that resembled drawings and watercolors that were soft and modulated in tone.

Among the Workshop artists, Alexander Vedernikov (Russian, 1898-1975) was particularly successful in achieving this aesthetic. His colorful, patterned still lifes reflect the influence of Matisse and the Fauves. Alexandra Yacobson’s (Russian, 1903-1966) Russian folktale illustrations and Gerda Nemenova’s (Russian, b. Germany, 1905-1986) minimalist portraits capture the graphic gesture of drawing, with their delicate, linear qualities.

The subjects of the artists in the Leningrad Workshop ranged widely. Boris Ermolaev (Russian, 1903-1982), for example, was a successful painter who drew heavily on the traditions of folk art and icon painting. One of his lithographs, Mothers (1961), rendered in vibrant colors and emphasizing flattened, linear shapes, most strongly exemplifies the conventions of Socialist Realism in its idealized depiction of workers on collective farms. Other works in the show, however, focus on more foreboding subjects, such as a series by Gregory Israelevich (Russian, 1924-1999) depicting owls that symbolize the passing of time and mortality.

Many of these artists were first shown in the West in a groundbreaking exhibition entitled Lithographs by Twenty-Seven Soviet Artists held at the Grosvenor Gallery in London in the spring of 1961. The gallery was founded in the previous year by Eric Estorick (1913-1993), and his wife, Salome (1920-1989), who later became best known as collectors of Italian Futurism. Estorick was born in New York City in 1913, his family having emigrated from Russia to the United States in 1905 to escape anti-Semitism. He became a political writer and lecturer in sociology at New York University before settling in London. Lithographs by Twenty-Seven Soviet Artists was one of the earliest exhibitions of Soviet art held at Estorick’s gallery—a niche that he would continue to champion through many exhibitions for the next several decades. The show was so well received in Britain that the exhibition traveled to New York City later the same year. Many of the prints on view in the current exhibition were included in that show and later acquired for the Hebrew Home Art Collection.

As a member of the American Alliance of Museums, The Hebrew Home at Riverdale is committed to publicly exhibiting its art collection throughout its 32-acre campus including the Derfner Judaica Museum and a sculpture garden overlooking the Hudson River and Palisades. The Derfner Judaica Museum + The Art Collection provide educational and cultural programming for residents of the Hebrew Home, their families and the general public from throughout New York City, its surrounding suburbs and visitors from elsewhere. The Home is a nonprofit, non-sectarian geriatric organization serving more than 11,000 elderly persons in greater New York through its resources and community service programs. Museum hours: Sunday – Thursday, 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Art Collection and grounds open daily, 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Call 718 581-1596 for holiday hours and to schedule group tours, or for further information please visit our website at

This exhibition is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.


Tradition and Remembrance: Treasures of the Derfner Judaica Museum

Hanukkah Lamp
Bezalel School
Jerusalem, ca. 1920-29
Copper alloy: cast, pierced; copper: stamped
Ralph and Leuba Baum Collection

Kiddush Cup
Bezalel School
Jerusalem, ca. 1910
Silver: filigree, engraved
Ralph and Leuba Baum Collection


Hanukkah Lamp
Frankfurt-am-Main, ca. 1750-60
Silver: repoussé, chased, traced, punched, pierced, cast
Ralph and Leuba Baum Collection

Shabbat/Festival Lamp
Andreas Schneider (German, active 18th century)
Augsburg, 1765
Silver: cast, engraved
Ralph and Leuba Baum Collection


Scroll of Esther Case
Izmir, Turkey, 19th century
Silver: Filigree; parcel-gilt
Ralph and Leuba Baum Collection

Torah Case (Tik)
Kashan, Persia, before 1950
Wood: painted; fabric


New York, late 19th century
Wood: carved, painted, gold leaf
The Hebrew Home at Riverdale Archive

Zygmunt Menkes (American, b. Poland, 1896-1986), Cohanim Blessing, ca. 1940s
Oil on canvas, Gift of Erica and Ludwig Jesselson and Family in Memory of Leo Forchheimer


The Derfner Judaica Museum occupies a 5,000-square-foot exhibition space in the Jacob Reingold Pavilion at The Hebrew Home at Riverdale. It is the focal point for a wide range of educational and exhibition programming for residents and visitors alike. Completion of the Museum was funded in part by a furnishings grant received from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. With approximately 250 objects, the inaugural exhibition, Tradition and Remembrance: Treasures of the Derfner Judaica Museum, explores the intersections of Jewish history and memory. The stories of objects used in traditional Jewish practice are interpreted in light of the role of memory in shaping both individual and communal identities. Among the featured objects in the exhibition are a silver filigree vase, ca. 1911, and an early copper alloy Hanukkah lamp, both from the Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts founded in Jerusalem in 1906. Other objects come from near and far, including a set of 18th-century German Torah implements, a handsomely illuminated 19th-century Italian marriage contract and a 2nd-4th century lamella amulet.

The Judaica Museum was founded in 1982 when Riverdale residents Ralph and Leuba Baum donated their collection of Jewish ceremonial art to the Home. A refugee from Nazi persecution, Ralph Baum, and his wife, Leuba, had an intense desire to preserve and pass on to future generations the memory embodied in the objects they collected, the majority of which were used primarily by European Jews before the Holocaust. In 2008 the Judaica Museum was named in honor of its benefactors, the late Helen and Harold Derfner.

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