Lot 183
  • 183

An Important Pair of Passover Textiles, Alsace, 1832

20,000 - 30,000 USD
bidding is closed


painted cotton.
towel 52 by 15 1/2 in.; pillow 32 by 30 1/2 in.
132.1 by 39.4 cm; 81.3 by 77.5 cm

This elaborate set of Passover textiles is a magnificent example of the art of Alsatian Jews. The seder towel, known in Judeo-Alsatian as Sederzwehl, demonstrates the Jewish adaptation of Alsatian folk practice of hanging an embroidered show towel to cover the soiled towels used for hand washing. Alsatian Jews, in a similar fashion, created and decorated show towels to cover the towels used during the Seder hand-washing ceremonies.

The towel inscribed in Hebrew: Created for Solomon, son of Naftali and his wife by Kalman Bachrach of Arishaen. Embellished with scenes of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The central medallion depicting a family celebrating Passover seder flanked by heraldic lions, and an elaborate floral basket. Together with a matching cushion cover, painted with a basket of fruit, birds and a floral wreath, both with texts relating to the Passover seder. Similar Passover towels, perhaps by the same artist, are in the collection of the Jewish Museum, New York, dated 1828 (F 5004), and another, dated 1831, is in a private collection.

The accompanying cushion cover would have decorated the cushion which the head of the family would lean upon during the Seder, a gesture symbolizing the liberation from the slavery in Egypt.

Barbara Kirschenblatt-Gimblett and Cissy Grossman, Fabric of Jewish Life, 1977, no. 228
Bonni-Dara Michaels, Gabriel M. Goldstein and Stephen O. Parnes, The Art of Passover, 1994, pp. 48-53


Sotheby Parke-Bernet Galleries, Judaica and Other Works of Art, October 10, 1979, lot 233