Important Ceramic Plate, Bezalel School, Jerusalem, Circa 1920
An Important Bezalel Charger
Hand painted ceramic with center depiction of the Spies with Grapes returning from the Land of Canaan. Border of foliage, including the signature “Bezalel” in slender black lettering. Rim states two excerpts of Biblical verses: “Two of them carried it on a pole between them” (Numbers 13:23), “the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit.” (Numbers 13:27). Circa 1925. Between 1923 and 1929, the Bezalel School ran a workshop solely devoted to ceramics. The vast majority of the ceramics produced were flat tiles, often depicting an image related to the land or inhabitants of Israel, and in some instances, many tiles were fitted together to form one scene, as a mural of sorts. However, aside from these tiles, other ceramics were made such as vases, bowls, dishes, and a charger such as the one offered here. Unlike the aforementioned tiles, these vessels can be quite difficult to locate, either because fewer of these objects were made or because of their inherent fragile nature. Once damaged, a dish might be discarded, its practical use no longer applicable.
Bezalel ceramic vessels rarely appear on the market, and when they do, they tend to command very high prices, due to sophisticated collectors being aware of their scarcity. This charger, due to its large size, well preserved condition, visually appealing decoration, and rarity (to our knowledge, a Bezalel ceramic charger has never appeared for sale at auction, we purchased this from a private collection), is indeed important, as is a remarkable survivor. To get a sense of how rare this charger is, please see the Israel Museum publication “Tiles Adorned City: Bezalel Ceramics”, as the book is filled with photos of tiles featured in present-day museums and private collections, yet no chargers are shown, except for one: from a black and white photograph of the ceramics workshop during the 1920’s!