A paint-decorated, gilt-heightened, carved wooden ark pediment: gilded lions flanking the Decalogue
attributed to the workshop of M. C. Illions New York City (lower east side), c.1920 height 70.48 cm (27- 3/4 in); width 165.1 cm (65 in) ; depth 4 1/2in (43 cm) (27-3/4 X 65 X 4-1/2in)
These wood carvings are early examples of Jewish American folk art in the 20th century. They show how a form of art initially designed for carousel decoration evolved into a liturgical form reserved for the interiors of synagogue decoration. The symbols of these decorations are found throughout all of Jewish art and material culture from gravestones to paper and print craft.
See Murray Zimiles, Gilded Lions and Jeweled Horses: The Synagogue to the Carousel, Jewish Carving Traditions (Waltham, M.A.: Brandeis University, 2007). p. 129. Cf. Joy Ungerleider-Mayerson, Jewish Folk Art: From Biblical Days to Modern Times. (New York: Summit Books, 1986), 220-221.
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