32 Portrait of Prefect Mendel


Lipót Gedő

Budapest, 1910s

oil, canvas

purchase, 1913

The office of the Jewish prefect was created by King Matthias for the purpose of maintaining direct communication between the Jewish community and the kingdom. The prefect was an appointed member of the Jewish community, which was a change to the previous practice, when a Christian aristocrat had been the legal representative of the community. In addition to his role as mediator, the prefect had broad entitlements within the Jewish community. The most famous prefect, Jacob Mendel filled the position from 1493 to1 522, and he was practically the leader of the Jewish community in Hungary. Jacob Mendel issued charters to which he affixed his coat of arms and his seal featuring his head-portrait for authentication, which was unique in contemporary Europe.Lipót Gedő painted the authentic portrait of Jacob Mendel on commission by the Jewish Museum, using Mendel’s seal, kept in the Archives of Kassa (Kosice).