—Biblical Data:

Engraving is the act and art of cutting letters, figures, and the like, on stone, wood, or metal. The account of the equipment of the high priest (Ex. xxviii., xxxix.) evidences that this art had been developed to a high degree among the Hebrews at an early period. To designate the skill of the worker the word and its derivative are employed, while and and denote the process and the finished result (Ex. xxviii. 11, 21,36; xxxi. 5; xxxv. 33; xxxix. 14, 30; Zech. iii. 9; I Kings vi. 18, 19, 32, 35; vii. 31; [, Ex. xxviii. 11, 21, 36, is probably a scribal error for, or a dialectic form of, ]). The seal-engraver's art is cited to indicate the manner of work to be done on precious stones (Ex. xxviii. 11). Of the Phenicians it is known that they had attained proficiency in the engraving of signet-rings (Benzinger, "Hebräische Archäologie," p. 258). As the same necessity for using signet-rings (to sign contracts and other documents) existed among the Hebrews, it is reasonable to assume equal proficiency in this art among them, especially since the signet-ring is mentioned as among the usual appointments of men of standing (Gen. xxxviii. 18). As in the case of Bezalel (Ex. xxxi. 2), engravers were looked upon as endowed with a divine spirit of wisdom and understanding. Phenician artists were imported (II Sam. v. 11) at a comparatively late period.

On Precious Stones.

The precious stones in the ephod and the breast-plate of the high priest, as well as the inscription on the gold plate in his head-dress (Ex. xxviii., xxxix.), are specially mentioned as specimens of the engraver's art. The ornaments on the walls of Solomon's Temple (I Kings vi. 18, 19) are products of the wood-engraver's skill (comp. II Sam. v. 11). The instrument used is known as , with the usual qualification ("the iron style"), tipped with a diamond point (Jer. xvii. 1), and used for engraving letters (Job xix.24), or, more properly, as , the graving-tool by which incisions were made (Ex. xxxii. 4). Both relief-engraving, as in the case of the cherubim, and intaglio-engraving, for signet-rings and gems, seem to have been known. Job xix. 24 has been construed as showing that for purposes of inscriptions lead was used. In the "pesel" (graven image) the form and figure are completely separated from the block of material used. According to Maimonides, Abraham ben David, and other Talmudic authorities (Giṭ. 20a; "Yad," Kele ha-Miḳdash, ix. 2), relief-work alone (pressed out from beneath) was permissible in objects connected with sacerdotal service. For this reason, as gems could not be worked in this way, in the case of the precious stones on the ephod and the breastplate a miracle was assumed: the worm SHAMIR traced the letters which appeared on them (Soṭah 48b; Naḥmanides to Ex. xxv. 7).

  • Benzinger, Hebr. Arch. pp. 257 et seq.;
  • Nowack, Lehrbuch der Hebräischen Archäologie, i. 245 et seq.;
  • Leopold Löw, Graphische Requisiten und Erzeugnisse bei den Juden, part 1, Leipsic, 1870.
E. G. H.—In Medieval and Modern Times:

Playing-cards were one of the first products of the art of wood-engraving; they were printed from wooden blocks and then colored. As the invention of "books of lots" and playing-cards, originally merely picture-cards, must be ascribed to the Jews and Saracens, it may be assumed that Jews were engaged at an early date in their manufacture; in fact, the only painter of playing-cards whose name has come down from the beginning of the sixteenth century in Germany is the Jew Meyer Chaym of Landau (1520). Contemporaneous with Chaym, the sons of the portrait-painter Moses dal Castellazzo were working at Venice as stamp-cutters; but the only thing known about them is that in 1521 they illustrated a Pentateuch after designs by their father. There may have been a number of such Jewish artists in the sixteenth century. Julius von Schlossar says, in reference to the illustrators of the Hebrew prints of this time (Haggadah of Sarajevo, p. 222, Vienna, 1898): "All the wood-cutters and engravers, as well as the printers and publishers, are Jews." Unfortunately, the names of these artists are not known; only occasionally did they add a monogram to their work. A single Jewish copper-plate engraver of this time is known by name—David Laudi, who was working at Cremona in 1550, furnishing the plates for the "Istoria di Cremona." The engraver Salom Italia of Amsterdam was probably a native of Lombardy; of his works only the portraits of Jacob Judah Leon and Manasseh ben Israel, etched respectively in 1641 and 1642, are known. The following engravers on copper were likewise working at Amsterdam in the seventeenth century: a son of Jacob Belmonte, Benjamin Senior Godines, also known as a calligrapher; B. de Almeyda; Abraham b. Jacob, who engraved a portrait of ABOAB. Engravers of the eighteenth century—chiefly illustrators of Hebrew books—were: Abraham Lopez de Oliveira; Aaron Sanctroos (Santcroos); Abraham Isaac Polack, who engraved a portrait of Saul b. Isaac ha-Levi, and had a reputation for pretty "ex libris." Among the engravers at Amsterdam in the nineteenth century were two members of the Amsterdam Academy, Moritz Dessauer and Abraham Lion Zeelander (1789-1856), the latter of whom engraved in outline the gallery of Wilhelm II., and Joseph Hartogensis and Jeremias Snoek, who painted and engraved the synagogue of Rotterdam.

In Germany.

In England Jewish engravers are not mentioned before the second half of the eighteenth century, among them being Ezekiel Abraham Ezekiel (1757-1806), who engraved some portraits of famous contemporaries; Solomon Bennet (1761-1838), who engraved his own portrait; and Salomon Polak, who engraved portraits and illustrated a Pentateuch. In Germany, similarly, Jewish engravers are not mentioned until the end of the eighteenth century. I. Schnapper of Offenbach engraved a portrait of Goethe in 1786, and one of Catherine II. Johann Michael Siegfried Lowe of Königsberg (1756-1831) was also a painter; M. Abrahamson the younger lived about the same time at Berlin, the only known work by him being the portrait of Hirschel Levin. Other engravers of Berlin were B. H. Bendix,born about 1770, who engraved chiefly portraits, and the well-known brothers Henschel. Löser Leo Wolf of Hamburg (1755-1840) engraved views and portraits. The following among modern German engravers should be mentioned: Friedrich Fränkel (b. 1832) and Georg Goldberg (b. 1830), both of Nuremberg, the former engraving from Dutch, and the latter from Italian and modern, masters (Kohut, "Berühmte Israelitische Männer und Frauen," i. 304 et seq.); Heinrich Redlich (d. 1884): Louis Jacoby of Berlin (b. 1828, and still working in 1903); Hermann Seligman Emden (1815-75) of Frankfort-on-the-Main; Henry Lemon of London (b. 1822).

Some Jewish artists also took up lithography: Leopold Dick of Kaiserslautern (1817-54), who furnished Biblical subjects after Raffael; Abraham Neu, who engraved (1830) a view of the synagogue of Worms; David Levi Elkan (b. 1808), known for his arabesques and satirical subjects; Veit Meyer (b. 1818?) and Gustav Wolf (b. 1798), both of Dresden, the latter of whom engraved a gallery; Julius Bien of New York (b. 1826); Leo Lehmann of Hamburg, who engraved portraits. The stamp-cutter Moses was working at Offenbach in 1825. Among French engravers must be noted: F. Moyse, who chose Jewish subjects, as "La Bénédiction de l'Aïeul"; Gustave Levy, who engraved portraits in the style of the earlier Italian masters, including those of the chief rabbis Lazare Isidor and Zadoc Kahn. Among the engravers of other countries are: H. Leibowicz, a Pole who produced 165 portraits during the middle of the eighteenth century; Joel Ballin, a Dane; M. Donat (c. 1833), the Hungarian calligrapher and engraver on copper; Samuel Jesi (1789-1853), the Italian, a member of the French Academy; and Max Liebermann and Joseph Israels, painters and etchers. In America the Rosenthals of Philadelphia, father and son, are among the best and most prolific engravers and etchers, while Julius Bien is one of the foremost lithographers.

Jews engaged more usually, however, in stone-and metal engraving, two of the few arts they were permitted to practise, and the knowledge of which was frequently transmitted from father to son through successive generations. It is an open question whether or not this was due to some tradition handed down from antiquity, as modern Jewish stone-engravers are, apparently, mentioned for the first time at the end of the sixteenth century, when Pedro Teixeira met some at Aleppo. Diamond-cutting, an art for a long time known only to Jews, may have been introduced by them at Amsterdam at a relatively early period, as half the diamond-cutters there to-day are Jews; two of them, Fedder and Voorzanger, cut the Kohinoor in 1852. See also Antwerp.


The Jews understood the art of engraving, as well as of cutting, diamonds. The first artists in this line known by name are the court seal-engraver Michael Abraham, at the electoral court of Brandenburg, and his brother Joseph Abraham, who was also employed by the elector. After Joseph's death (1697) his son Joseph Levi (Levi b. Joseph) was appointed court seal-engraver, and cut the coat-of-arms on a diamond for Frederick I. Joseph's sons, Uri Phoebus b. Abraham b. Joseph and Joseph b. Abraham b. Joseph, were likewise seal-engravers. The latter's son, Joseph Beretz (b. 1745), is also mentioned as a stone-engraver, probably being identical with the anonymous Jewish stone-engraver who, Meusel says ("Miscellaneen Artistischen Inhalts," xvii. 260), engraved the Decalogue upon a stone less than an inch square. A Jewish engraver at Lemberg, in 1773, even engraved on the stone of a ring a prayer of eighty-seven words (Geisler, "Skizzen . . . Joseph II." 1783). Many Jewish engravers, like the Abraham family, were the recipients of princely favors on account of their art. Philipp Hirsch (b. 1784), who had acquired the art from his father, was appointed court stone-engraver at the court of Württemberg. He engraved heads chiefly, as those of the King and Crown Prince of Württemberg, the Grand Duke of Baden, Schiller, and Goethe. Philipp Aaron was called to Schwerin by Christian Ludwig II., for whom he engraved "sigilla mystica." Toward the end of the eighteenth century the court engraver M. Löser was called to Sweden by the king in order to cut a coat-of-arms. The brothers Enoch (d. 1807) and Jacob Nathansen (d. 1816?), who were the scions of an old family of engravers, were appointed by the same king court seal-engravers. Other members of this family were: Levy Enoch Nathansen (d. 1845), who engraved antique heads on stone and copper; Wolff Nathansen (d. 1899), metal-and stone-engraver; B. Nathansen, worked in Hamburg from 1823 to 1829; and Eduard Nathansen (d. 1844), metal-and stone-engraver.

There were court seal-engravers at Dresden under August III.: Michael Samuel, and Jephiel Michael (Abt), who drew a salary from the court; the latter's son, Samuel Abt, was likewise a seal-engraver. Jean Henri Simon (1752-1833), one of the foremost artists in his line, who enjoyed the favor of many princes, engraved not only portraits on stone, as those of Napoleon, Louis XVIII., Louis Philippe, and Charles X., but also medals. He transmitted his art to his son, having himself acquired it from his father, who is called by his biographer "Jacob Simon," but who is probably identical with the eminent Belgian gem-cutter Jacob Mayer Simon. The Parisian engravers, Mayer Simon and Samuel Simon, the latter (b. 1760) being engraver to the post-office, were probably brothers of Jean Henri. The following were working in Paris about the same time: David Salomon, Israel Lion, Oury Philippe Lion, Samuel Abraham, Benjamin Bodenheim, Pierre Wolf, and the stone-engravers Samuel Mayer Oppenheim and Isaac Joseph Mareli; Napoleon III.'s court engraver, Stern, came somewhat later. Among the foremost stone-engravers of his time was Aaron Jacobsen (d. 1770), who cut cameos and intaglios. His son Aaron Salomon Jacobsen (1756-c. 1829) cut dies and medals, and was court engraver and member of the academy at Copenhagen. Another excellent Danish stone-engraver was B. Goldfarb (c. 1832). L. Baruch, of an old family of engravers, and an artist of reputation, was the teacher of his nephew, the eminent medal-coiner Jacob Wiener (1815-99), who in turn taught his brothers Leopold and Karl Wiener (d. 1867), both of whom were medal-engravers and sculptors. The following earlier Jewish medalengraversdeserve notice: Jacob Abraham and his son Abraham Abrahamson; Abraham Aaron, engraved (1785) a medal on the accession of Friedrich Franz I.; Abraham Jacobs, a medal (1765) on the jubilee of the "Commerz-Deputation" of Hamburg; Joel b. Lipmann Levi, the medal (1735) of R. Eliezer b. Samuel Schmelka; and the Dutch I. Elion.

In the eighteenth century almost all the larger Jewish communities had seal-cutters among their members. Schudt ("Jüdische Merckwürdigkeiten," ii. 172) reports them as frequently plying their trade at fairs and markets at the beginning of the eighteenth, and Bondi ("Sulamith," i. 227) at the beginning of the nineteenth, century. The Hamburg Jews' tax-lists of the beginning of the eighteenth century mention four seal-engravers (at the end of the century there were six) who carried on their work in the open street. Von Griesheim ("Traktat . . . die Stadt Hamburg," 1757, v. 1, 227) says, "The seal-engravers of Hamburg, especially the Jews, do very good work at reasonable rates."

Modern Engravers.

The following are well-known artists of the present time: Awner Grilliches and his son (Imperial Russian Mint); Emmanuel Hanneaux, the sculptor (among other plaques that of Coralie Cahen); the Russian sculptor Beer, living at Paris (medal on the occasion of the second Zionist congress); Löwenthal of Vienna (medal of Dr. A. Hoffmann); Wilhelm Rothenstein of London; Eichel ("Jewish Confirmation at Warsaw, 1843"); I. W. Loewenbach ("Inauguration of Synagogue at Munich, 1826"); Löwenstark ("Montefiore's Centennial, 1884"); H. Oppenheim, nephew of the painter Moritz Oppenheim (Madame I. Bloc, 1886); Saphir, a clever stone-engraver, has done some work for the court of Russia; Daniel Henriques de Castro, although only an amateur, has attained to a high degree of perfection in cutting glass with the diamond-point.

Statistics concerning the number of Jewish engravers for some countries are available. In 1857 there were fifty-four in the kingdom of Poland, aside from Warsaw. In 1900, at Budapest, 321 Jews, among them eleven women, were engaged in the different branches of engraving (Jew. Encyc. ii. 155, s.v. Artisans).

  • Wolf, Etwas über Jüdische Kunst und Aeltere Jüdische Künstler, in Mittheilungen der Gesellschaft füt Jüd. Volkskunde, 1902, ix. 12-74.
D. A. W.
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