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Antokolskii’s Inquisition

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When Mark Antokolskii published his autobiography in a major St. Petersburg monthly, Vestnik Evropy [“The Herald of Europe”] in autumn 1887, it was during unprecedented state anti-Semitism in Tsarist Russia. The autobiography celebrates the liberal culture in St. Petersburg of the 1860s, when he grew into an artist as a student at the Imperial Academy of Art. The translated excerpt below describes how Antokolskii came to make the clay model of the relief, “The Raid of the Inquisition on the Jews during Passover,” as a product of his own search for beauty in art. In the short introduction, I explain that although this specific piece remained unfinished to the end of his life, its artistic concept was the philosophical undercurrent of his artistic creativity and placed his conception of Jewish identity at the very heart of his art.

Affiliations: 1: Stanford University


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