Lecture with Art Historian Norman Kleeblatt

October 24, 2018, 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Westchester Jewish Center
175 Rockland Avenue
Mamaroneck, New York 10543

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The Rebecca & William Ross Memorial Lecture Series presents


Curator, Art Historian, and Critic Discussing “From Jean-Dominique Ingres to Andy Warhol: Jewish Patrons and the Grand Masters of Portraiture”

Wednesday, October 24, 2018 at 8:00pm

The Baroness Betty de Rothschild sat for one of Ingres’s most seductive portraits in 1833. Descendent of court Jews, art dealer Asher Wertheimer gave John Singer Sargent by far his largest commission. Seventy-five percent of Gustave Klimt’s sitters were prominent Viennese Jews, including Adele Bloch-Bauer whose extraordinary golden portrait now hangs in New York’s Neue Galerie. The Jewish patron and taxi magnate Ethel Scull initiated Andy Warhol’s entire body of commissioned portraits.

Ironically, circumstances between sitters and artists and the public reception of these masterpieces of Western portraiture were often clouded by anti-Semitic reactions. In his lecture, Norman Kleeblatt will examine these disarming artistic masterpieces, and interweave related narratives of famous Jewish families of finance and industry. Over the past two centuries, portraiture has evolved dramatically. Yet despite the new directions, it has taken the commissioned portrait remains a steadfast symbol of power. It also serves as evidence of refined taste and breeding. Jewish access to the masters was no easy feat, however, these and other remarkable examples show Jewish patronage as a strategic means of successful entree into mainstream society.


Norman Kleeblatt is a curator, art historian, and critic. Formerly chief curator at The Jewish Museum, New York, his exhibitions include From the Margins: Lee Krasner and Norman Lewis, 1945 – 1952 (2014), Action/Abstraction: Pollock, De Kooning, and American Art, 1940-1976 (2008) and The Dreyfus Affair: Art, Truth and Justice (1987). He has contributed to ARTnews, Artforum, Art Journal, and Art in America, among other publications.

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