From Mendelssohn To Mendelssohn

German Jewish Encounters in Art, Music, and Material Culture

Exhibition Website

Jan 26 2016 - Jun 24 2016

One of the most iconic works of art in The Magnes Collection, returns on display before being loaned internationally on the occasion of the Lutheran Reformation in Wittenberg, Germany.

Moritz D. Oppenheim (1800-1882), often celebrated as the first modern Jewish painter, created Lavater and Lessing Visit Moses Mendelssohn in 1856. The painting portrays an imagined mid-18th century meeting among scholars and intellectual associates Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786) and Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781), and the Swiss theologian Johann Kaspar Lavater (1741-1801), taking place at the Mendelssohn residence in Berlin. The intellectual friendship between Lessing and Mendelssohn, as well as the public dispute between Mendelssohn and Lavater, are vividly evoked in this work through a host of visual connections to history, literature, and Jewish culture.

From Mendelssohn To Mendelssohn reawakens the original setting of the painting and the history of the Mendelssohn family, including the lives and works of Moses Mendelssohn’s grandchildren, composers Fanny (1805-1847) and Felix (1809-1847), by activating the extensive holdings of German-Jewish ritual art, prints, rare volumes, manuscripts, and material culture. The installation, aimed at creating a renewed imagined space of intercultural dialog animated by the presence of a historic piano (Wieck, Dresden, ca. 1860) from UC Berkeley’s musical instrument collection, is the new setting of a salon-like space of intellectual and artistic gathering.

Exhibition overview from museum website

Whether you go or not, The Mendelssohns: Three generations of genius reveals why the Mendelssohns -  Moses, Dorothea & Henrietta, Abraham and Felix - were known as the "...Rothchilds of culture".


  • European
  • 19th Century
  • Judaica

Exhibition Venues & Dates