Jacob Kramer

Jews at Prayer


Not on display

Jacob Kramer 1892–1962
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 876 × 498 mm
frame: 955 × 576 × 30 mm
Purchased 1975

Display caption

Kramer was born in Ukraine but settled in Leeds, Yorkshire. There he became a part of a group centred around the modern art collector, Sir Michael Sadler.Here he shows Jewish men at prayer in traditional clothes. The theme may reflect his belief that the Jewish artist should be able to turn to ‘his own people’ for support. Kramer uses the style of dress to emphasise his simplification of the figures. He wrote: ‘The degree of expression in a work of art is the measure of its greatness. A spiritual discernment is more essential than the reproduction of the obvious.’

Gallery label, July 2007

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Catalogue entry

T01973 JEWS AT PRAYER c.1919

Inscribed on back ‘Kramer’ and ‘Jews at Prayer’
Oil on canvas, laid on panel, 34 1/2×19 5/8 (87.7×49.8)
Purchased from Parkin Fine Art (Grant-in-Aid) 1975
Coll: Given by the artist to Manlio di Veroli soon after completion in payment for a debt; bought from di Veroli by C.Levin c.1940; sold by C. Levin's widow, Mrs Standish Taylor, May 1975 to a private collector in London
Exh: Jacob Kramer, Leeds City Art Gallery, September–October 1960 (18) as ‘The Day of Atonement’ 1919; Aspects of Jewish Painting in Britain 1900–1950, Parkin Fine Art, May–June 1975 (41) as ‘Study for The Day of Atonement’. 1919

Jacob Kramer was born in the Ukraine but emigrated to Britain with his family in 1900. He grew up in Leeds, studied there at the Art School, finally gaining a studentship at the Slade. On leaving he exhibited with the New English Art Club and the London Group

‘Jews at Prayer’ is thought to date from around 1919, following his demobilisation from the army and his subsequent move to London. It is one of a number of paintings on Jewish religious themes, coming very close in style to ‘The Day of Atonement’ (1919) in Leeds City Art Gallery, in which the worshippers are standing but wearing the same full length prayer shawl or tallit as they pray during the feast of Yom kippur. It is probable that ‘Jews at Prayer’ depicts the same holy day.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1974-6: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1978


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