The Kabbalistic “Teaching Panel” of Princess Antonia

Divine Knowledge for Both Experts and Laity

in Church History and Religious Culture
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Abstract

This article explores the complex interweaving of kabbalistic and Christological concepts within the kabbalistic “teaching panel” (Lehrtafel) of Princess Antonia of Württemberg. The essay discusses the artwork in the context of visual representations of the ten sefirot, the divine attributes or vessels in Jewish mysticism. Executed as an altarpiece for the church in Bad Teinach in Southern Germany, the work integrates the sefirot into a pansophic concept that served devotional and educational purposes with a salvific goal. The article argues that, with the Lehrtafel, Antonia and her teachers created a devotional object that could be accessed by both regular Christian laity and experts who possessed deeper knowledge of Kabbalah.

The Kabbalistic “Teaching Panel” of Princess Antonia

Divine Knowledge for Both Experts and Laity

in Church History and Religious Culture

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Figures

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    Figure 1

    Frontispiece Joseph Gikatilla, Portae Lucis, Augsburg 1516

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    Figure 2

    Sefirotic Tree. Online course of Boaz Huss and Yoed Kadary: Introduction to Kabbalah KAB 1010x

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    Figure 3

    Epitaph picture of the altar (closed): Bridal Procession of Shulamith

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    Figure 4

    Inner painting of the Triptych

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    Figure 5

    Lower part of the inner painting. Antonia at the entrance to the garden

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    Figure 6

    Christ in the center of the garden

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    Figure 7

    The pregnant woman from Revelations 12 at the position of Yesod (foundation / fundament), the 9th sefira

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    Figure 8

    Mary with little Jesus at the place of the 6th sefira Tifʾeret (splendor)

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    Figure 9

    The three highest Sefirot: Keter (crown) in the middle, Hokhmah (wisdom), right, Binah (understanding) left

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    Figure 10

    Upper Crown above the sefirotic system, with the initials Antonia of Württemberg (A and V, surrounded by the letter O, referring to Rev. 1:8); below, on top of the cupola, one finds Moses, Elijah, and Enoch

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    Figure 11

    High Priest in the Holy of Holies, center of the inner painting. The priest is flanked by Moses and Joshua on the left and John the Baptist and the apostle Paul on the right.

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