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Pre-war photograph of Jew taken clandestinely by Roman Vishniac

Object | Accession Number: 1991.222.12

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    Brief Narrative
    In the catalog accompanying the photograph, Vishniac explained "This place was made famous by the Gaon of Vilna, Elijah, who preached on these steps to the community two hundred years ago. At the time, when I came, forty years ago, it was still a place where everybody gathered. It was a place for everybody to come to speak and ask advice."

    Original created by Roman Vishniac, 1938, Vilna, Poland. Reproduced from original negative by Witkin-Berley Limited, 1977, Roslyn Heights, New York.
    Artwork Title
    Synagogue Court, Vilna, 1938
    Series Title
    One of twelve photographs in a boxed portfolio, number 33 from a limited edition of 50, entitled The Vanished World
    creation:  1938
    Credit Line
    Gift of Mara Vishniac Kohn, The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, University of California, Berkeley
    board, recto, lower right, in black ink, "Roman Vishniac"
    Photographer: Roman Vishniac
    Roman Vishniac was born in 1897 in St. Petersburg, Russia and was educated in the Universities of Moscow and Berlin. From 1933 to 1939, he traveled throughout eastern Europe--Russia, Poland, Rumania, Czechoslovakia, and Lithuania--photographing Jewish communities. He was arrested and imprisoned repeatedly by police who suspected him of photographing Jews. Of the sixteen thousand images he took, two thousand negatives still exist. Vishniac's photographs were made with a hidden Leica camera which he wrapped a handkerchief around and exposed the film as he wiped his brow. He also used a concealed Rollei or 2-1/4 x 2-1/4 camera. The Rollei was kept under his coat with the lens protruding through an enlargened button hole.

    Physical Details

    Physical Description
    Permanently mounted on board; image consists of a woman seated in a chair in the foreground and two men, one seated one standing, in the background; verso, printed label, "print No. 12 of portfolio 33, published in 1977 by Witkin-Berley, Ltd."; catalog of the work (published by Witkin-Berley, Ltd.) is in the front pocket of the portfolio.
    overall: Height: 28.190 inches (71.603 cm) | Width: 22.130 inches (56.21 cm)
    overall : paper, gelatin silver print, adhesive, ink

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Administrative Notes

    The photograph was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1991 by Mara Vishniac Kohn, the daughter of Roman Vishniac.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 18:21:38
    This page:

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