Hello, my name is Dr. Julie Aronson. I am the curator of American paintings, sculpture, and drawings; and the curator of Henry Mosler Behind the Scenes: In Celebration of the Jewish Cincinnati Bicentennial. I will be reading the Mosler as a Jewish Artist section text.
The Moslers were among the approximately 200,000 German-Jewish immigrants to the United States between 1830 and 1880. Social upheaval and economic devastation in Germany led families like the artist’s to seek better opportunities in America. Mosler’s parents, Gustave and Sophie Mosler, may have moved to Cincinnati to join relatives who had settled here previously.
Henry Mosler became the most important painter of Jewish faith from nineteenth-century Cincinnati. Nevertheless, except for the adjacent painting of Plum Street Temple and several commissioned portraits of well-to-do Jewish Cincinnatians, he did not paint Jewish subjects. Like many immigrants then and now, he had a strong work ethic and defined success within the dominant culture. His subjects and style were those that would bring him honors in the art world as well as financial security for his family, which grew to include five childen.
Mosler did not play an active role in the Jewish community. However, he saw beauty in the religion’s ancient rituals and took an interest in Jewish affairs, including the Reform Movement. He did not believe his faith required membership in a synagogue. When questioned, the artist reportedly answered, "I am an eternal worshipper of the Creator. When I transfer a beautiful model to the canvas, I am engaged in an act of divine worship. When I go out for a breath in the Park and look at the trees and flowers, I am worshipping; when at night I see the stars, I am worshipping again. God is great, mighty and beautiful."
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