Fine Judaica: Printed Books, Manuscripts, Autograph Letters, Antiquities, Ceremonial Objects & Graphic Art
Mar 9, 2018 (Your local time)
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LOT 24:

The Proposal of the Jews to Ferdinand and Isabella ...

Sold for: $190,000
Estimated price:
$ 70,000 - $90,000
Auction house commission: 25%
VAT: On commission only

The Proposal of the Jews to Ferdinand and Isabella (in order to secure their residence in Spain).
Oil on canvas. Signed and dated by artist lower right. 57 x 74 inches. (143.5 x 187 cm). Later handsome gilt frame.


Alternate title: The Expulsion of the Jews from Spain.
     The persecution suffered by the Jews of Spain under the reign of Queen Isabella I of Castille culminated, at the instigation of the Inquisition, with the edict of expulsion in 1492. The great rabbinic leader and statesman Don Isaac Abrabanel (seen here in yellow robes and kneeling on the left) was offered exclusion from the edict, but refused any exceptional favor which differentiated himself from the other Jews of Spain. The painting depicts Abrabanel pleading before the Queen for the rescission of the edict by offering 30,000 ducats, an immense sum that would cover the costs of the decade-long Grenada War. Dramatically, enters the Grand Inquisitor, Thomas de Torquemada, holding a crucifix and exclaiming: ‘Judas sold his master for thirty pieces of silver, for how many will you sell this cross?’ Isabella had been hesitating, but this outburst sealed her determination to carry out the expulsion.
     Plymouth born Solomon Alexander Hart (1806-81) was an artist of the English neo-classical style. He was the first Jew to be granted membership of the Royal Academy, London (later he was appointed the R.A. historian) and certainly the most important Jewish artist working in England in the 19th century. He remained an observant Jew all his life.
     Hart was particularly celebrated as a painter of historical characters and scenes. This very sizable painting, which has gone unseen for several decades, is a prime example of the artist’s range in regard to historicity and wide field of vision. Two other dramatic, Jewish-themed paintings by Hart can be found in The Tate Gallery, London (Interior of a Polish Synagogue) and The Jewish Museum, New York (The Feast of the Rejoicing of the Law). See Treasures of the Jewish Museum (1986) pp. 150-1.

     Exhibited at the Royal Academy, 1870 and again in 1879.
     Christie’s London, November 11th, 1966 Lot 110.