Thursday, October 26, 2023

‘Freemasonry, art, and Kabbalah’

Detail of Aperçu de l’Origine du Culte Hébraïque by David Rosenberg, 1841.

Embassy of the Free Mind, the Amsterdam-based locus of things spiritual, cultural, scientific, et al., will host a lecture of particular interest in December. From the publicity:

Freemasonry and Kabbalah:
Cultural Exchange in Esoteric Art
by Peter Lanchidi
Thursday, December 7
1:30 p.m. Eastern

The lecture will explore the interface between Freemasonry and Kabbalah, an important yet largely unexplored area of research both within the narrower fields of the academic study of Freemasonry and Kabbalah and the wider area of Western esotericism. The subject will be presented through the Masonic-Kabbalistic lithographs of David Rosenberg, a Freemason and rabbi who was member of Lodge of Aristocrats in the Paris of the July Monarchy (1830-48).

The splendid pieces of art of the rabbi are richly populated with Masonic, Jewish and Kabbalistic symbols and text, and were popular among both French and English Masons. Rosenberg’s life journey through several countries, the long reception history of his works, and the complex nature of the topic necessitated a truly interdisciplinary approach and extensive archival research that used primary sources from close to 100 archives, collections, libraries and museums in 18 countries on four continents.

Through the artworks of the rabbi the audience will learn how Kabbalah was perceived and used within Freemasonry and they will see how the Jewish visual heritage of Eastern Europe and Kabbalah were amalgamated into Western Masonic science and art. On a broader perspective, the lecture will shed light on the workings of cultural exchange and cross-fertilization within the esoteric landscape of nineteenth-century Europe.

ELTE photo
Peter Lanchidi
Peter Lanchidi is a tenured senior lecturer in the Institute of Art History at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest. As an Azrieli Fellow, he earned his Ph.D. in the Department of Jewish Thought at Ben-Gurion University. His doctoral dissertation on the Masonic-Kabbalistic art of David Rosenberg, a Freemason and rabbi, won the Thesis Prize of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism. With a background in art history and aesthetics (BA) from Budapest and in Jewish studies (MA) from Stockholm and Heidelberg, his research focuses on the interface between Freemasonry and Kabbalah in visual material in the nineteenth century and its historical and cultural contexts.

There is more to read here, if you understand Dutch. Click here for tickets (US$13.21 for Zoom).

Click here to read a paper by Lanchidi.

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