Highlights of the Michael and Judy Steinhardt Judaica Collection are now on view in London.


LONDON - One of the most intimate spaces at Sotheby’s in New Bond Street is the New Gallery. Its dark walls were illuminated today as the gallery was prepared for exhibiting the Michael and Judy Steinhardt Judaica Collection.

Fresh from a hugely successful exhibition at the Jewish Museum in Moscow, and en route to New York, where it will sell on 29 April, the collection will be on view in London until 12 March. Consisting of some exceptionally rare objects, the collection conveys the sweep of Jewish history from antiquity to the 20th century. Encompassing Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas, this group of manuscripts, silver and decorative objects, textiles and fine art relate to every aspect of Jewish life, and represent the dual worlds of observance and cultural heritage at home and in the synagogue.

As the lighting is fixed on these objects, the gallery glows with the reflections from some exquisite silver work, from the rare 18th century English silver 'Lord Mayor's Dish,’ presented to the Lord Mayor of London by the congregation of Bevis Marks, the oldest synagogue in Britain, to the mesmerising 'The Rouchomovsky Skeleton.’ This is a Russian gold articulated skeleton, measuring some 8 cm. and complete with its own ornate silver-gilt coffin, created in Odessa in the 1890s by Israel Rouchomovsky.

He was an exceptional Russian craftsman who drew inspiration from the recent Scythian gold discoveries in the Crimea. Rouchomovsky gained international fame when he was revealed as the creator of a gold tiara bought by the Louvre in 1896 as a rare Antique – Louvre curators had been certain that such a work was impossible by modern craftsman, and it was only proven that Rouchomovsky was its maker when he was brought to Paris and re-created part of the tiara in 1903. The story ensured Rouchomovsky’s fame—he was presented with a medal from the Paris Salon of Decorative Arts—while the tiara itself remained in storage until included in a 1997 exhibition on Rouchomovsky at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem and was later shown at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta in 2009.