The Torah Ark in Renaissance Poland

A Jewish Revival of Classical Antiquity


The volume explores the stone carved shrines for the scrolls of the Mosaic Law from the mid-sixteenth to the mid-seventeenth century synagogues in the former Polish Kingdom. Created on the margin of mainstream art and at a crossroad of diverse cultures, artistic traditions, aesthetic attitudes and languages, these indoor architectural structures have hitherto not been the subject of a monographic study. Revisiting and integrating multiple sources, the author re-evaluates the relationship of the Jewish culture in Renaissance Poland with the medieval Jewish heritage, sepulchral art of the Polish court and nobles, and earlier adaptations of the Christian revival of classical antiquity by Italian Jews. The book uncovers the evolution of artistic patronage, aesthetics, expressions of identities, and emerging visions among a religious minority on the cusp of the modern age.
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EUR €170.00USD $240.00

Biographical Note

Ilia M. Rodov is Lecturer in the Department of Jewish Art at Bar-Ilan University. He is the author of many works on European synagogue art, focusing on the history, patronage, and meanings of synagogue paintings, sculptures, architectural decoration, and furniture design.

Review Quotes

"...intéressante monographie" – Eliane Poirot, in: Mikhtav 67 (2013)

Table of contents

1. Medieval Synagogues in Cracow and Kazimierz
2. The Renaissance Reaches Jewish Kazimierz
3. The Isserls' Torah Ark: Deconstructing the Bricolage
4. The Isserls' Torah Ark: Reconstructing the Unity
5. Developments of the Isserls' Model in Kazimierz
6. From Kazimierz to Pińczow and Szydłow
7. Revivals of Ancient Art in the Design of Late-Sixteenth- to Mid-Seventeenth-Century Arks

187 illustrations


The academic audience, extending from students to scholars, and all those interested in art history, Renaissance art and architecture, as well as Jewish art, architecture, symbols, liturgy, exegesis, and customs.


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