Ephraim Moses Lilien
Born Galicia, active Germany and Palestine, 1874–1925
An Allegorical Wedding: Sketch for a carpet dedicated to Mr. and Mrs. David Wolffsohn
Triptych (from right to left): Exile, Marriage, Redemption
Oil, charcoal, and pencil on canvas
185 x 305.5 cm
Accession number: B88.0279
This triptych was created by one of the founders of the Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts in Jerusalem: the graphic artist Ephraim Moses Lilien, who is regarded as the leading formulator of Zionism’s artistic vision in the early 20th century.
It is a sketch for a carpet that was to be woven at Bezalel in honor of the 25th wedding anniversary of David Wolffsohn, president of the World Zionist Organization and heir to Theodor Herzl. At the right Exile is represented by Jeremiah, the biblical prophet who foretold the destruction of Jerusalem, while the left-hand panel shows Redemption. In the center are the bride and groom: he is portrayed as a blend of the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser and portraits of Herzl and Wolffsohn himself; she is an icon of the virtuous Jewish woman. Their wedding ceremony symbolizes the merging of the Zionist ideal with the Jewish people, while the entire triptych spans all of Jewish history, from biblical sovereignty to modern Zionist redemption.
Lilien asserts that the Jews are the true heirs of the ancient civilizations that were being rediscovered in his time, thanks to archaeological finds. His royal couple is noble and proud, the opposite of stereotypical frail, downtrodden Diaspora Jews.