The Art of Passover
The Art of Passover by Stephan O. Parnes. (Universe Publishing, 48 illustrations, 120 pp. $24.95)
Passover art, as Stephan O. Parnes’s coffee-table book demonstrates, is not just illuminated haggadot—although the most famous haggadot are well represented here. The Passover festival table is also adorned with table runners, Seder plates, afikoman pouches, matza covers, goblets and engravings; facing each image is informative artistic and historical commentary by Bonni-Dara Michaels and Gabriel M. Goldstein, both of Yeshiva University Museum.
Included is the image and background of the oldest surviving illuminated Ashkenazic Haggada—The Birds’ Head Haggadah (1300)—and many others that were created in Spain, Iran, Moravia, Central Europe, Israel, Romania, China and the United States; those by Ben Shahn and Arthur Szyk are both the most contemporary and the most political. Outstanding examples of Seder plates run the gamut from enamel earthenware from 1480 Spain; engraved pewter from 19th-to-20th-century Central Europe; to Majolica pottery from 19th-to-20th-century Italy with pictures of the biblical David, Aaron and Solomon as well as a contemporary family around the table.
The most poignant Seder plate, however, is of rough-hewn wood used in the Terezin ghetto (1944).