A Fine Neoclassical German Silver-Gilt Torah Shield and Finials En Suite, the shield George Zeiller, Munich, 1825 and circa

Auction Closed

December 15, 09:26 PM GMT


100,000 - 150,000 USD

Lot Details


A Fine Neoclassical German Silver-Gilt Torah Shield and Finials En Suite, the shield George Zeiller, Munich, 1825 and circa

the shield with arched top applied with a cast spray of flowers and fruit, and with coronet above a canopy enclosing Tablets, compartment for portion plaques with double-sided plaques, within crossed branches of berried laurel, all above a pair of lions couchant regardant, applied fluted tapered columns topped by flames, with three bells suspended from drapery fringe, marked at top flanking suspension loop; the finials each formed as a six-columned rotunda, the domes pierced with foliage-fringed apertures, pinecone finials, Gothic arch gallery enclosing bellflower spray mounted en tremblant, the lower body hung with six bells between acanthus leaves, apparently unmarked

Height of shield including bells 16 in. (40.6 cm); Height of finials 13¼in. (33.8 cm)

George Zeiller became a Master in 1780, and is listed as a Drawing Master in 1789, suggesting he was probably a designer as well as a practicing silversmith. He created religious silver in the Damenstis and St. Peters churches in Munich (see Rosenberg, p. 350 no. 3576). A very similar Torah Shield to the offered example - nearly identical lions, columns, and drapery base - and pair of "tempietto" finials, by Zeiller 1828, were in the Kirchstein collection, Berlin, and now at the Skirball Museum, see New Beginnings: The Skirball Museum Collections and Inaugural Exhibition, pl. 8 and p. 132. These have an inscription attesting to their being privately held in a Bavarian village by 1858, showing that not all of Zeiller's production was destined for urban synagogues.

There were few Jews in 18th century Munich; it was limited almost exclusively to Court Jews and similar suppliers to the Bavarian Court. In the 1790s there began to be more Jewish women and families in the city; in 1798 there were 35 heads of families, 33 women, and 98 children (Jewish Virtual Library). In 1805 regulations finally allowed Jews to reside in the city and conduct religious services. Immigrants swelled the Jewish population, with 451 Jews listed in 1814, and in 1816 the community was formally organized and established a cemetery.

Construction of a synagogue had to wait until 1824, when a permit was issued, and the building was dedicated April 11, 1827 - the exact period of this shield and finials. The rabbi was Hirsch Aub, who started in 1825 and would serve until 1871. Drawings of the synagogue, showing its strong Munich Neoclassical style, were sold at Kedem, January 20, 2016, lot 748 (https://www.kedem-auctions.com/en/content/drawings-and-plans-synagogue-munich-%E2%80%93-munich-1825).  In 1884 the 1820s building was replaced by the new Great Synagogue of Munich.