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Sotheby's New York announces Annual Important Judaica Sale to be held on 17 December
Moritz Daniel Oppenheim’s The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara. Est. $200/300,000. Photo: Sotheby's.

NEW YORK, NY.- Following the landmark offering of The Michael & Judy Steinhardt Judaica Collection in April of this year, Sotheby’s presents its annual auction of Important Judaica on 17 December 2013. The auction features resplendent Judaica: from silver treasures produced in Augsburg, Amsterdam and Frankfurt during the Baroque era to masterworks created in the late 20th century by silversmiths in New York City. Highlighting the paintings section is an important, recently rediscovered Moritz Daniel Oppenheim, The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara. The auction, which presents works from across the globe, also features a Minuscule Torah Scroll, Germany, circa 19th century, meticulously penned on parchment, and only three inches tall, as well as an Exquisite Italian Torah Binder, circa 1700. The sale will be on view in their York Avenue galleries beginning 12 December, alongside the sale of Israeli & International Art.

The Minuscule Torah Scroll, written in Hebrew script on parchment only three inches tall, is one of the highlights of the sale (est. $200/300,000). The tradition of creating such small and therefore easily portable scrolls doubtlessly emanates from the circumstances surrounding the Jews’ long peregrinations in exile. The present lot magnificently and seamlessly combines the qualities of scribal artistry, incredibly small size, and pleasing proportionality.

Moritz Daniel Oppenheim’s The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara (est. $200/300,000) is one of the most important paintings by the artist to come to auction. It was painted in 1862, four years after Edgardo Mortara was forcibly removed from his parent’s home by the guards of the Papal Inquisition in Bologna. He had apparently been secretly baptized by a serving girl during a childhood illness. A public outcry across Europe and North America ensued, but the boy was never returned . Oppenheim's oil is a masterful depiction of the dramatic episode. The painting has been long lost, and only known from a preliminary drawing for the oil. After more than 100 years, the reappearance of this painting is an extraordinary discovery which has been welcomed by Oppenheim scholars everywhere.

A further highlight is the Arba’ah Turim printed by David and Samuel ibn Nahmias (est. $50/70,000). During the year 1493, the Spanish-Jewish brothers labored on the production of their first book, the Arba’ah Turim by Jacob ben Asher. It was the first book printed in Constantinople; the first book printed in Turkey; and the only incunable printed outside Christian Europe. Only six complete or near complete copies, and a mere handful of fragments of this exceedingly rare edition are known to have survived in public collections.

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December 12, 2013

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