Come Out and See
Jewish and Christian Bible Illustrations
Original Exhibits from International Collections
May 25, 2003 – August 17, 2003

Bible illustrations from the 16th to the early 19th centuries in original exhibits from international libraries and collections.
Bible illustrations from the invention of letterpress printing until the early 19th century seem to be at first glance exclusively a topic of history from Christian books. Jewish people did not observe the second commandment strictly – when it had to do with the biblical books -: “Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image”? In comparison to Christian printing firms, Jewish printing firms at that time were actually rather meagerly equipped with illustrated ornamentation. But bible illustrations in Jewish printed books did actually exist, even when not as an original Jewish creation, but rather as an adaptation or transformation of Christian images. Points of this process of acquisition can be shown in a compilation of books with illustrations of biblical subject matter, as aspects of an inter-cultural interactional world of Christian and Jewish images simultaneously emerge.
The areas of contact between Jewish people and their non-Jewish surroundings in this epoch were mainly defined through intensive economical relationships. Only a few forms of connection bridged the gaps that separated Christians and Jews in religious and social daily life. Therefore, it seemed interesting to attempt to trace the emergence of Christian and Jewish worlds of images according to bible illustrations and therefore shed light on the intercultural and transcultural processes of acquisition and transformation.

“Kommt heraus und schaut“ (“Come Out and See”). These words from the Song of Solomon were mentioned in the extremely popular Yiddish book of that time, Tsene-rene, which was decorated with numerous bible illustrations. “Kommt heraus und schaut” (“Come out and see”) is also the motto of this exhibition. In this exhibition, valuable original objects are on show, mostly books that come predominantly from the Gross Family Collection in Tel Aviv, which is one of the most important private collections of Judaica worldwide.

An exhibition from the department for Yiddish culture, language and literature at the Heinrich Heine University, Düsseldorf and the Menasseh ben Israel Institute, Amsterdam

Idea, curator and text of the exhibition:
Falk Wiesemann, Heinrich-Heine University, Düsseldorf
Loaned by:
The Gross Family Collection, Tel Aviv
Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana, university library, Amsterdam
University library and national library, Düsseldorf
Bijbels Museum, Amsterdam
Private loans

Catalog for the exhibition:
Falk Wiesemann: “kommt heraus und schaut” (“Come out and see”) Jewish and Christian bible illustrations from ancient times. With contributions from Marion Aptroot and William L. Gross. 148 pages of numerous partly colored illustrations. Klartext Verlag, Essen 2002. ISBN 3-89861-138-8

Design: stecher id (Götzis)
Roland Stecher und Thomas Matt
Museum education:
Helmut Schlatter
Secretary: Renate Kleiser