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The Iconography of Menasseh Ben Israel

Alexander Behr

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Menasseh Ben Israel From the etching by Rembrandt (Engraving in the collection of Mr Alfred Rubens) (See page 191)</page><page sequence="2">The Iconography of Menasseh Ben Israel By Alexander Behr NEW interest in the life of Menasseh ben Israel has been aroused by the ter? centenary of his Mission to Oliver Cromwell which was celebrated in 1956. Rabbi, theologian, author, diplomat and printer, he is best remembered as the man who, more than anyone else, was responsible for the resettlement of the Jews in England. It is therefore of particular interest to examine the portraits attributed to him and to endeavour to discover those that are authentic. The following are some of the principal portraits which have been claimed to represent him, given in the order of their execution : (a) The etching by Rembrandt, of 1636 ; (b) A painted portrait by Rembrandt of 1636, which is alleged to have been lost; (c) The painted portrait by Flinck, of 1637 ; (d) The engraving by Salom Italia, of 1642 ; (e) The painted portrait by Rembrandt, of 1645, formerly in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg (Leningrad) and now in Washington. Additional interest has been lent to the portraits by the discovery of the painted portrait which may be that of the wife of Menasseh ben Israel, particularly as no portrait of his wife has so far been known to exist. It is dealt with in the section devoted to Flinck's portrait of the Rabbi. Lucien Wrolf, in his notes on the portrait in his Menasseh ben Israel's Mission to Oliver Cromwell^ which is a standard work, refers to only three : Rembrandt's 1636 etching, Salom Italia's engraving and, with some reservations, Rembrandt's 1645 Hermitage portrait, which are all reproduced in his book. Wolf does not mention the alleged lost Rembrandt painting, nor Flinck's portraits of the Rabbi or of his wife. (a) REMBRANDT'S ETCHING (1636) Rembrandt's well-known etching of 1636 has been sanctified by time and it is generally accepted as the authentic portrait of Menasseh ben Israel. So closely are they associated that to Jews the Rabbi's name instinctively brings to mind Rembrandt's etching, whilst the artist's work recalls his portrait of Menasseh. They were not only contemporaries, but both lived in the same Breestraat (afterwards Jodenbreestraat) in Amsterdam opposite each other, and it is assumed that they were on friendly terms, as is shown by Rembrandt's portrait of the Rabbi and by the four illustrations which he executed for Menasseh's Spanish work, 'Piedra Gloriosa?. But there appears, however, to be no direct evidence for the claim made by some biographers that they were on intimate terms.2 A grotesque and preposterous assertion appears in John Smith's catalogue of Rembrandt's work to3 the effect that it had been suggested to him that Rembrandt's 1 Luden Wolf, Menasseh ben IsraeVs Mission to Oliver Cromwell, London, 1901. 2 Franz Landsberger, Rembrandt, The Jews and The Bible, Jewish Publication Society of America, Philadelphia, 1946. 3 John Smith, Catalogue Raisonne of the Works of Dutch, Flemish and French Painters, London, 1836, Vol. VII. 191</page><page sequence="3">192 ICONOGRAPHY OF MENASSEH BEN ISRAEL financial difficulties, which led to his bankruptcy, were due to his intimacy with Menasseh ben Israel and Ephraim Bonus (Bueno), who is likewise immortalized in a Rembrandt portrait, and that he was tempted to part with his money for what Smith calls 'alcymical pursuits'. Smith added that both were said to be addicted to cabbalistic studies and that Menasseh wrote a book on the subject. Smith admits, however, that his own conclusions were that Rembrandt's troubles were brought about by an indiscreet conduct of his affairs. But it will be remembered that Rembrandt's own version was that it was due to his maritime speculations. The allegation quoted anonymously by Smith is also refuted by Rovinsky in his work on Rembrandt's etchings1. Rembrandt's etching of Menasseh ben Israel was probably executed from life, but believed by some to have been based on a painted portrait that has been lost. The allegation of a lost Rembrandt painting is dealt with in a subsequent section. The etching by Rembrandt is now accepted not only as a faithful representation of the man whose memory is honoured, but symbolises the scholar, the man of action and the founder of Anglo-Jewry2. (b) THE PAINTED PORTRAIT BY REMBRANDT (1636) The claim that a portrait painted by Rembrandt in 1636 (the same year as the date of the etching) is lost, is probably a myth. The assertion is made by Hofstede de Groot in his catalogue of Rembrandt's works3 and repeated by Bode and others. It appears to be based on Smith's catalogue4 in which a description of the painted portrait, similar to the etching is given. Hofstede de Groot copies Smith's entry verbatim and adds that the original is lost, although Smith himself made no such assertion. It has also been claimed that Rembrandt executed the etched portrait after the painting, but the fact probably is that Rembrandt executed the etching from life, and it has even been suggested that he did so in only one sitting5. Professor H. van de Waal of Leiden, when speaking of a portrait of the Rabbi by Rembrandt, refers only to the etching. As to the painted portrait he states that the claim is based by Hofstede de Groot on an etching by J. G. Hertel of the 18th century and cannot now be substantiated.6 The reference to Hertel was first made by Smith who said that he copied it in reverse. A search for HertePs copy has not been successful, but I am indebted to Dr. Knab of the Albertina for a photograph of an unidentified copy of Rembrandt's etching of Menasseh, which may be by Hertel. It is in reverse, and Dr. Knab pointed out that it entirely agreed with Hofstede de Groot's description. This might prove that what Hertel executed was, in fact, a copy of the etching and not of a painting, as alleged by Smith. (c) THE PORTRAIT BY GOVERT FLINCK (1637) The portrait of Menasseh ben Israel by Govert Flinck (1615- 1660),one of Rembrandt's 1 Dimitry Rovinsky (St. Petersburg), note 11. 2 'A clear sharp piece of etching, hard, unrelieved, and done with small feeling or sympathy . . . with its open masses of light it seems more like Eeckhoudt than Rembrandt. ... It seems possible that Rembrandt did the drawing and Eeckhoudt (a pupil in the shop in 1636) did the etching. . . .'John C. Van Dyke, Rembrandt's Drawings and Etchings, New York, 1927. 3 C. Hofstede de Groot, Hollandsche Meester der XVII eeuw, VI, No. 841. 4 John Smith, Catalogue Raisonne, London, 1836, Vol VII. 5 Andre Charles Coppier, Revue des Deux Mondes, 1916, but he also refers to another portrait by Rembrandt. 6 Prof. H. van de Waal, Beitr?ge zu der Hollandischen Kultur des Ilten Jahrhunderts, p. 54, notes 17, 18.</page><page sequence="4">ICONOGRAPHY OF MENASSEH BEN ISRAEL 193 pupils, which hangs in the Mauritshuis (next to the 'Anatomy Lesson of Prof. Tulp') is described in the catalogue (No. 866) as a portrait of Samuel Menasseh ben Israel, Rabbi in Amsterdam, dated 1637. The signature is only partly visible. When attention to the painting was called by Dr. C. Roth1 in 1949, on information by Dr. Charles Singer, it was hailed as a newly discovered portrait of the Rabbi. But its authenticity as relating to Menasseh ben Israel was disputed, chiefly on the ground that it did not resemble the portrait in the well-known etching by Rembrandt in 1636. The earliest attribution of this painting to Menasseh ben Israel appears to date from about the end of the 19th century when it was in the possession of Count Leon Mniszech2 and particularly from 1902 when it was sold by public auction in Paris3 and described in the catalogue as a portrait of the Rabbi. (This fact does not appear to have been noticed in the Anglo Jewish Press at the time.) It has been subsequently given the same description in various exhibitions*. It was significantly omitted from the exhibition in Amsterdam in 1957 to celebrate the Tercentenary of the Rabbi's death, and it was also not included in the Exhibition in London of 1956, nor in the earlier exhibitions of 1887 or 1906, when it was still unknown5. The following arguments are adduced against the view that the portrait represents Menasseh ben Israel: (a) How is it that such an important portrait (and that of his wife, as is shown later) should have been unidentified for 300 years? (b) The resemblance between this portrait and the Rembrandt etching is rather in the attire and head-dress than in the features or expression. The difference is accentuated in the original portrait. Flinck's portrait shows an apparently affluent and self-satisfied person, which Menasseh was not, whereas Rembrandt's etching of the year before portrays the scholar and the man of action. The discrepancy cannot be explained by the temperaments of the two artists. (c) The age of the sitter is wrongly shown on the portrait, if it is that of Menasseh ben Israel, as AE 44, whereas he was then only 33.6 See also supplementary notes on p. 198. 1 C. Roth in The Jewish Monthly, London, September 1949, and correspondence between him and Alfred Rubens. 2 Count Leon Mniszech, who was born in Odessa (Russia) on 27 December 1849, belonged to one of the leading Polish families, and was a descendant of George Mniszech, Grand Marshal of the Kingdom of Poland. He took an active part in various philanthropic organisations and was a founder member of the Red Cross organisation. Count Mniszech was a well-known collector and a great connoisseur of art. I owe this note, based on the Dictionnaire National des Contemporains I, p. 150 to Dr. Oskar Rabinowicz. See also supplementary notes on p. 198. 3 Sale of Mniszech collection, Paris, 9, 10 and 11 April 1902 (No. 110). 4 Dr. L. Fuks, Librarian of Rosenthalia Library, chief organiser of the exhibition, stated that it was omitted because of abundance of authentic material. Exhibitions : Grands et petits maitres hollandais, Paris, 1911. Herwonnen Kunsbezit, The Hague, 1947. Herdekingstentoostelling de Portugees-Israelitsche Synagoge, Amsterdam, 1950. 5 See the catalogue of an exhibition of Anglo-Jewish Art and History in commemoration of the Tercentenary of the Resettlement of the Jews in the British Isles, held at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, S.W.7, 1956. Catalogue, Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibition, Royal Albert Hall, London, 1887. Catalogue, Exhibition of Jewish Art and Antiquities, Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1906. The portrait was also in the De Jonge collection, Paris, 1916 ; Sale, Fred Muller, Amsterdam, 30 March, 1943. 6 Menasseh ben Israel was born in 1604. N</page><page sequence="5">194 ICONOGRAPHY OF MENASSEH BEN ISRAEL (d) In Henri Havard's list1 there is no mention of Menasseh, and this applies also to other works of reference, but it is described as a portrait of the Rabbi by Martin, who, however, deals with the painting, rather than the portrait2. (e) Hofstede de Groot refers to the portrait as a 'sogenannter', so called, portrait of Menasseh3. (f) The name 'Samuel' Menasseh ben Israel in the Mauritshuis catalogue is in? correct. Samuel was Menasseh's second son who predeceased him4. With the portrait of Menasseh ben Israel which was sold in the Mniszech sale in Paris in 1902, there was also sold a 'pendant' to it, a companion-portrait, of a lady, painted by Flinck in 1641 : executed four years later than the other. It is also on wood, oval in shape and of the same size (.75 x .59 centimetres) as the one of the Rabbi. It shows a young woman in a black dress with a white bonnet and a quilt collar, holding a handkerchief in her right hand. It is signed on the left G. Flinck, 1641. It was described in the catalogue as the wife of Menasseh ben Israel5. It was purchased by Messrs. Agnew, the London art dealers and resold by them in 1905 to the late C. Fairfax Murray^. The original portrait has not been traced, but a reproduction of it exists7. Hofstede de Groot does not include Flinck's work in his famous catalogue of Dutch paintings, but his comments on the lady's portrait have been found. He stated that he did not know why the portrait should be described as that of the wife of Menasseh ben Israel, although the dimensions were the same. He added that it was painted four years later than the one of the Rabbi and was not as forceful in light or colour8. Another argument is that, unless Flinck painted the portraits of the Rabbi and his wife free of charge, it is not easy to reconcile them with his financial position, because Menasseh is known to have been struggling as Rabbi, teacher and printer, and was far from affluent. His salary remained miserably small9, he was considering emigration to Brazil in order to improve his position, and a few years later he transferred his printing press for financial reasons to others, though he remained connected with it. Prof. H. van de Waal gives further evidence of his financial straits at a later period10. But neither Flinck's portrait of Menasseh nor that of his wife give the impression that they were 1 Henri Havard, VArt et les Artistes Hollandais, Paris, 1880. Havard states that 'a portrait of a lady' (without any other description) was shown in the Amsterdam Exhibition of 1872. It was signed G. Flinck, 1641. The size of the portrait is given as .75 cm. high and .58 cm. wide, which corresponds with the above portrait (Menasseh's wife). The origin is given as M. C. M. Van Gogh, Amsterdam. The implication is that at that time, 1872, the name of Menasseh ben Israel's wife had not yet been given to the portrait. 2 W. Martin, De Hollandsche Schilderkunst in de seventiende eeuw, 1936. 3 Hofstede de Groot, S. V. Flinck, in Thieme and Becker, Allgemeines Lexicon der bildenden Kunst. 4 This name was given to the etching by Rembrandt in various catalogues, and it is the conventional description. 5 Catalogue of the Mniszech sale, Paris 1902 (No. 109). ' I am indebted to Dr. Peter Murray (Witt Librarian), the Courtauld Institute, London, for the suggestion that 'Agnel' (originally supplied by the auctioneer as the name of the purchaser of the Flinck portrait of the wife of Menasseh ben Israel) meant Agnew, the art dealers, who confirmed the purchase, and re-sale to C. R. Fairfax Murray, artist and collector. 7 Witt Library, The Courtauld Institute, London, 3 C. Hofstede de Groot's private notes ('nches') at the Netherlands Institute of Art History, The Hague. 9 Cecil Roth, Life of Menasseh ben Israel, pp. 57, 62. 10 Prof. H. van de Waal, Beitr?ge zu der Hollandischen Kultur des Ilten Jahrhunderts, Leiden.</page><page sequence="6">ICONOGRAPHY OF MENASSEH BEN ISRAEL 195 poor. Menasseh's wife was 39 in 1641, when the portrait was painted1, but she looks younger. There are no Jewish traits in the portrait of Menasseh, but these can be noticed in that of his wife. In conclusion it must be pointed out that the two portraits, although they were painted four years apart, must be considered together, and if the one is authentic, or otherwise, this then applies equally to the other. (d) THE ENGRAVING BY SALOM ITALIA Salom Italia's portrait of 1642 engraved on copper is another authentic portrait of Menasseh ben Israel. It not only bears the Rabbi's name, but it has also the authority of Menasseh's own affirmation that it represents him. He in fact prized it most, although it is artistically inferior to Rembrandt's etching. This is evident from the letter from Menassah to the Silesian mystic Abraham von Frankenburg in 1643 accompanying a copy of the portrait2. New light has recently been thrown on the life and work of Italia by the late M. Narkiss3 who gives a catalogue of the artist's work with illustrations, with a short section dealing with Menasseh's portrait. 'Menasseh ben Israel Theologus et Philosophus' is mentioned on the portrait, which also gives Menasseh's trade mark, a pilgrim with a staff, one side, with the quotation from Psalms on the other1, and a poem in Latin underneath with the initials D.I. Narkiss deals fully with Italia's and Rem? brandt's illustrations to Menasseh's Piedra Gloriosa, o de la Estatua de Nebuchadnesar (1655), written in Spanish, and with the controversy that surrounded them. He incidentally controverts the views expressed by Israel Solomons5 that Menasseh refused to use Rembrandt's etchings for his book because they included a reproduction of the Deity, to which Menasseh objected, and that he therefore turned to Salom Italia. Narkiss also shows that the etchings were not used for technical reasons, and also that in the copy which Menasseh dedicated to Isaac Vossius there were included all the etchings by Rembrandt. The book Piedra Gloriosa complete with the four etchings is in the possession of the University of Ley den8. He also corrects the view previously held that Salom Italia was born in Castello Branco7. 'Salom the son of Mordecai of Italy', as he 1 Menasseh ben Israel married Rachel Bravenel in 1623. She was a grand-daughter of Don Isaac Abarbanel, the illustrious statesman and Bible commentator. She was then 21 years of age. S. Levy, 'Menasseh ben Israel's Marriage Banns', Tram. J.H.S.E., X, 255-7. 2 Lucien Wolf, Menasseh ben Israel's Mission to Oliver Cromwell; Bonum Nuncium Israeli, printed by George Trigge, 1655 (Rosenthalia Libr.). 3 M. Narkiss, 'The Oeuvre of the Jewish engraver Salom Italia (1619-1655)', Tarbiz (Hebrew, with English summary), Hebrew University of Jerusalem, XXV and XXVI (July and October 1956). 4 'Thy word is a lamp unto my feet. . .' Ps. CXIX, 105. Narkiss identifies the initials D. I. with David Jesurun. 5 Israel Solomons, Jewish Chronicle, 27 July 1906 ; Israel Abrahams, 'Menasseh and Rembrandt' By-paths in Hebrew Bookland, Philadelphia, 1920. 6 Prof. H. van de Waal, Beitr?ge zu der Hollandischen Kultur des 17 Jahrhunderts. Prof. van de Waal deals exhaustively with the four etchings by Rembrandt and with Menasseh's life. Prof. O. Benesch, who also deals with the life of Menasseh, refers to the four Rembrandt etchings, and mentions that Menasseh brought from London Broughton's book and showed it to Rembrandt, who then changed his etchings : Intellectual Trends from Rubens to Daumier, Cambridge, Mass. (1943). 7 J. I. de Silva Rosa, Maanblad van de Geschiedenis der Joden in Nederland, I Nr. 214/222. Narkiss incidentally corrects a wrong date given in the well-known and generally reliable Thieme and Becker's Kunstlexicon. The date of the portrait is given there as 1638, which is obviously a misreading of 'Aetatis suae anno XXXVIII', engraved on the portrait (namely Menasseh's age, 38), for the date of the execution of the portrait, which is given in the Lexicon as 1638, instead of 1642.</page><page sequence="7">196 ICONOGRAPHY OF MENASSEH BEN ISRAEL signs one of his pictures, was born in Mantua in 1619 and came from a family of printers of Ashkenazi stock. He settled in Amsterdam in 1641 and is believed to have worked there until 1655. (e) THE HERMITAGE PORTRAIT BY REMBRANDT (1645) Lucien Wolf in his Menasseh ben Israel9s Mission to Oliver Cromwell1 claimed that the portrait of the old man in the Hermitage at St. Petersburg represented Menasseh ben Israel in his old age. There is a reproduction of it in his book, which shows an old man with white hair and beard, and described as the portrait of the Rabbi. In the preface to his work, Lucien Wolf refers to it as cthe alleged portrait of Menasseh ben Israel', but in his Notes in the book, although he there described it as of 'doubtful authenticity', he stated : T am inclined to regard it as genuine'. He pointed out that it represented the Rabbi at a much more advanced age, and that the sorrowful expression and full beard may be accounted for by his troubles and experiences in London, especially by the death of his son. But Lucien Wolf must have overlooked the fact that Rembrandt's painting of the old man is dated 1645, which was some ten years before Menasseh went to London and twelve years before the death of his son there. In his Jewish Chronicle article2, written a few years before the book appeared, Lucien Wolf stated that some doubt had been cast on the authenticity of the portrait as representing Menasseh, 'but, I am inclined to think it genuine'; and he added ?to the English Jew it is particularly interesting, as it probably represented the indefatigable pilgrim as he appeared when he lived in London . . .' When M. Gulbenkian purchased a number of paintings from the Hermitage in 1930, the Rembrandt portrait of the old man was included, and it was afterwards exhibited in the Gulbenkian Collection at the London National Gallery (1936-1950, except during the war). It was described in the catalogue as 'an old man seated' with the remark that it was formerly called a portrait of a Rabbi and identified with Menasseh ben Israel, but that 'it does not agree with Rembrandt's etching of the sitter'. The Gulbenkian Collection was subsequently transferred to the National Art Gallery in Washington, where the portrait now hangs, presumably until the museum to be opened in Lisbon with Gulbenkian funds will receive it. The catalogue of the National Art Gallery in Washing? ton also describes the portrait as 'an old man seated' and mentions that 'attempts to identify the sitter have been unsuccessful. The painting has usually been referred to as a portrait of a Rabbi and the name of the artist's intimate literary friend Menasseh ben Israel, of Amsterdam, has sometimes been proposed only to be abandoned because his features, as recorded in the etching of 1636 by Rembrandt, bear no striking resemblance to those in the present painting. . . .'3 When the portrait was reproduced in the Jewish Chronicle (11 September 1936) it was then no longer associated with Menasseh, but with Rabbi Saul Levi Morteira, Spinoza's master, whom 'it is said to represent'. (The publication of the photograph coincided with the exhibition of the portrait at the National Gallery.) The history of the portrait may be relevant. It was purchased by Queen Catherine II of Russia from the Crozat Collection in Paris in 1772 together with a number of other pictures which formed the nucleus of the Hermitage Gallery in St. Petersburg. In 1 Menasseh ben Israel's Mission to Oliver Cromwell, 1901. 2 Jewish Chronicle, 4 February 1898. 3 By courtesy of Mr. John Pancoast, Curator, National Gallery of Art, Washington.</page><page sequence="8">^t^il Dortrimi hie voltltt voluit^ModcJl?L jpi^l- ^^gfc 4 W? jjoterrf vulttls cAarta refirre d?osl || WM 3k ^kH?s oaths, ft ere ora viJe. Conucnit utrgn^ueM wjm 8^ Mfe Ilia ftlor p tilt us Jixit, &amp; ilia f?es^Jj^ Manasseh Ben Israel Engraving by Salom Italia (1642) (From the engraving in the collection of Mr. Alfred Rubens)</page><page sequence="9">^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ *mmr^ ^^^^^ jflH^^ . ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Portrait described as Menasseh Ben Israel From the Painting by Govert Flinck in the Mauritshuis, The Hague</page><page sequence="10">^^^K^a ^v ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Portrait described as the Wife of Menasseh Ben Israel Painted by Govert Flinck From a photograph in the Witt Library, Courtauld Institute of Art, London</page><page sequence="11">Rembrandt van Ryn. An Old Man Seated National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. C. S. Gulbenkian Collection</page><page sequence="12">ICONOGRAPHY OF MENASSEH BEN ISRAEL 197 the catalogue of the Crozat Collection of 1775 it was also described as that of an old man seated1. The question arises how it was that Lucien Wolf identified the portrait with Menasseh ben Israel, a claim which was followed by others; for example, in the Exhibition of Jewish Art and Antiquities held in the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1906, there was shown a reproduction of the Hermitage portrait from the Israel Solomons Collection (No. 71) which was described as that of Menasseh. The Jewish Encyclopedia, which refers to the portrait with certain reservations, gives the wrong date. Dr. Cecil Roth in his biography of Menasseh ben Israel2 refuses to accept Lucien Wolf's claim, but is also mistaken in the dates. Rabbiner Dr. Grunwald refers to a portrait 'painted in 1636 and etched 8 years later' which no doubt refers to the etching of 16363. The clue to the problem can be found in the Hermitage catalogue of 18691 which definitely describes the painting as a portrait of Menasseh ben Israel, the friend of Rembrandt. The Hermitage has now admitted that 'it was mistakenly identified as a portrait of the painter's friend, the scholar, Rabbi of Amsterdam, Menasseh ben Israel . . .' and that this claim was abandoned in the catalogue by A. Somov of 18955. The Hermitage in their communication also explained that the reason why the portrait was originally associated with the Rabbi was by comparison with the Rembrandt etching, which cannot be accepted because of the obvious difference in the features of the two portraits, the one showing a man of over 70, whilst the other a man in the thirties. The problem therefore remains unsolved. Lucien Wolf must, presumably, have been tempted to accept the testimony of the Hermitage catalogue as evidence of a genuine portrait of the Rabbi, and thus associated the portrait of the man whom he revered with the painting he admired. In submitting these remarks which controvert a small aspect of Lucien Wolf's pioneering work in the realm of Anglo-Jewish history, the present writer wishes to quote what Mr. (afterwards Sir) Lionel Abrahams wrote when he reviewed Wolf's Menasseh ben Israel's Mission to Oliver Cromwell: 'Some additions to the common stock of know? ledge were made by Graetz, Picciotto and Dr. Herman Adler, but without disparagement to their historical zeal, it may be said that their contributions are very modest as compared with the results of Mr. Wolf's researches'. As a postscript mention may be made of the painting 'Menasseh ben Israel before Cromwell', painted by Solomon Hart, R.A. (1806-1881), the first Jewish Royal Acade? mician. The painting shows Menasseh ben Israel at the last of the four meetings of the Council to consider his petition for the readmission of the Jews to England. The painting hung in Jews' College, London, and was destroyed by enemy action during the second world war. Dr. Cecil Roth has drawn my attention to the following supposed representations of Menasseh ben Israel: 1 Letter from Dr. H. Gerson of the Netherlands Institute for Art History, The Hague. 2 Life of Menasseh ben Israel, p. 169. He gives 1645 as the date of the Rembrandt portrait, which should read 1636. 1645 is the date of the Hermitage portrait which Roth disputes. 3 'Rembrandt's neighbours', Jewish Chronicle, 13 July 1906. 4 Catalogue des Tableaux de VErmitage Imperial, 1869 (British Museum). 5 Letter from the Hermitage, Leningrad ; W. Loewinson-Lessing, Head of the Department of Western Art, dated 28 July 1956 (in French), and addressed to the present writer, 6 Lionel Abrahams, Jewish Quarterly Review, XIV, (October 1901).</page><page sequence="13">198 ICONOGRAPHY OF MENASSEH BEN ISRAEL (i) What was said to be a portrait of Menasseh ben Israel was reported in London in 1952 in the possession of Mr. J. O. Flatter of 32 Elm Tree Road, N.W.8. Mr. L. Araquistain drew the attention of Dr. Roth to this portrait. A photograph of the portrait seemed, however, to show only superficial resemblances in features, the only similarity being in the style of costume. (ii) Adolf Vixler Adolfszoon, a Lutheran pastor from Amsterdam, translated Luther's Bible into Dutch. On the flyleaf there is a picture of a rabbi, thought to be Menasseh ben Israel, who helped in the translation. See H. I. Bloom, Economic Activities of the Jews of Amsterdam in the 17th and ISth Centuries (Williamsport, Pa., 1937), p. 60, n. 127. (iii) A mistaken attribution has occurred through the substitution of Menasseh's name for that of Thomas Venner, the Fifth Monarchy man, in certain late impressions of Venner's engraved portrait, which show him as a fierce-looking soldier, with helmet and battleaxe (C. Roth, Menasseh ben Israel, Philadelphia, 1945, p. 346). SUPPLEMENTARY NOTES ON THE FLINCK PORTRAITS 1 Since the paper above went to Press, I have received the opinion of the Director of the National Portrait Gallery, Mr. Kingsley Adams, c.b.e., f.s.a., which is of considerable interest on the inscription of the incorrect age of Menasseh: "It is found here, with very few exceptions, when a sitter's age is inscribed on a portrait, the inscription is contemporary with the painting. If it is so in this case, and the date with the signature is also authentic, the identification as Menasseh ben Israel, in my view, is ruled out. There is no evidence that he could have been mistaken over his age, as the engraving by Solomon Italia gives his age as thirty-eight in 1642". 2 The Mniszech Collection was formed in Poland in the 18th century by Michal Mniszech, who enlarged it in 1795 with works from the collection of King Stanislaw August, and by the purchase from the Royal Collection of 48 portraits, mainly of Polish personalities. It eventually passed into the possession of Count Leon Mniszech who transferred some of the best works from the Mniszech Castle in Wismowiec to Paris in 1851. On his death the collection was sold by auction. Among them were five portraits by Flinck, including those thought to be of Menasseh ben Israel and his wife. [Information from the National Museum of Warsaw and the Polish Cultural Attache in Brussels.] J. Bialostocki and Walicki (Europ?ische Malerei in Polnischen Sammlungen, 1957) mention that the Mniszech sale in Paris of 1902 included five Flincks, among them a splendid portrait of Menasseh ben Israel and a portrait of the artist's wife, but they make no reference to the portrait of the wife of Menasseh ben Israel as described in the sale catalogue.</page></plain_text>

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