At the turn of the twentieth century ‘Jewish art’ was a fairly novel concept. The relation of Jews to visual art had started to be discussed during the nineteenth century in various intellectual quarters, and the common belief, among Jews and non-Jews alike, was that due to the biblical prohibition on graven images (Exodus 20:4) Jews had neither interest in art nor the talent to produce it. The beginning of the study and display of Jewish ceremonial objects and illuminated manuscripts during the latter part of the nineteenth century and the rise of Jewish artists in the contemporary scene made the topic a subject of interest. But it was also a topic much in dispute-over the definition of Jewish art or whether, indeed, it existed at all.1 At the turn of the twenty-first century, the numerous researches on a growing number of art objects in different media and from different periods, from antiquity to the present, have helped little to remove the question mark from the term ‘Jewish art’. Now, however, it is the question itself-that concerning the identity of Jewish art-which is contested. The problem is rooted, historians argue, in a nineteenth-century conception of art in terms of style, and more specifically in the structure of art history as a discipline which from the outset was intertwined with nationalism.2 It is generally agreed though that the emergence of the concept of ‘Jewish art’ had to do with issues of Jewish identity, be it as part of the ‘European impulse…to preserve and develop historic consciousness’3 or as ‘ethnic Jewish self-consciousness’.4 The concept of ‘national genius’ which developed in European thought since the eighteenth century, and particularly the idea of the German philosopher J.G.Herder that the national spirit is expressed in the nation’s creative forces, its language, literature and art, were instrumental for many national movements.5 Defining the history of art in nationalist terms was therefore a natural development.6 Whereas these ideas were applied to deny the existence of Jewish art or to describe it in derogatory terms they also stimulated Jewish cultural and national revival. The promotion of a visual art that would have particular Jewish traits was an important part of this movement especially as it emerged in Russia and Germany during the first quarter of the twentieth century.7