Moritz Daniel Oppenheim, German, 1800-1882
Seder (The Passover Meal) (Der Oster-Abend), c. 1867
Oil on paper on canvas
24 1/2 × 18 in. (62.2 × 45.7 cm)
The Jewish Museum, New York
Gift of the Oscar and Regina Gruss Charitable and Educational Foundation, Inc., 1999-88
Matzoh, the four questions, the ten plagues, and Elijah’s cup are elements of the beloved Jewish holiday of Passover, which commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery and their exodus from Egypt. It is celebrated at home with a special meal-the seder-that follows a service contained in the Haggadah. The holiday also holds significance for Christians, since the Last Supper was a Passover meal. In fact, this painting was originally titled “Easter Eve.”
Mother shares the spotlight with her husband, since she is always a majestic force in the home. Their guest wears a long coat and cap that signify him as an Eastern European Jew. On a rear table stand four bottles of wine, symbolizing the four glasses of wine drunk during the seder. Signaling the end of the meal, one son has opened the front door for the prophet Elijah.
The Jewish Museum, New York, MORITZ DANIEL OPPENHEIM: SCENES FROM FRANKFURT’S JEWISH PAST, July 2-December 10, 2000.
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