38 Portrait of Franz Joseph made from Hebrew characters
Marosvásárhely (Târgu Mureș), end of the 19thcentury
Paper, micrography, print
Gift of Sámuel Adler, 1916
Jewish public sentiment at the turn of the century was characterized by both the national ideal of freedom of 1848 as well as sticking to the traditions of independence in tandem with loyalty to Franz Joseph and the Habsburg-dynasty. Sámuel Hirschler made the portrait of Franz Joseph in Târgu Mureș with a technique which was so popular in the local Jewish folk art: micrography. The painting resolves the ancient prohibition of depicting humans bycreating the well-known profile of the emperor from biblical texts and sentences. The portrait is one biblical sentence: “From twenty five years old and upward they shall come to do duty in the service of the tent of meeting.” (Numbers 8:24), a paraphrase in which he thanks the ruler not for his work in the temple but for the work done in the interest of his people. The painting was donated by Samuel Adler to the collection in the year of the emperor’s death in 1916.