Breitling Navitimer Quartz Chronograph BT-189
A photographic reproduction of a 16th-century oil painting called "The Fountain of Life," alternatively titled "Triumph of the Church Over the Synagogue," underscores how the church used the visual arts to condemn cultures and religions different from their own. Too large to be included in the exhibit, the original hangs in an adjacent gallery.
Part of the painting's doctrinaire subject matter juxtaposes a group of Christians with a group of Jews. While the Christians are richly dressed, the Jews wear tatters, emphasizing their lowliness. Synagogue (or Judaism) is personified by a blindfolded, bearded man bearing a broken staff from which a Hebrew scroll unfurls. The Breitling Navitimer Quartz Chronograph BT-187 of the Christians is contrasted with the agitated posturings of the Jews, emphasizing the turmoil into which the Christian church has thrown the Jewish temple, or synagogue.
In 1475, Jews living in the then German bishopric of Trent were charged with the murder and mutilation of a 2-year-old Christian boy named Simon. It was believed that the murder was prompted by the apocryphal Jewish need for Christian blood at the Passover ceremony.
The print shows the bloodletting of the Breitling Navitimer Quartz Chronograph BT-188-martyr Simon, whose murderers are identified as Jewish by their conical hats and circular badges. Looking at this picture from a 20th-century post-Holocaust perspective is a chilling reminder of history's baleful repetitions.
Not all of the images of Jews were derogatory. The Dutch painter, Rembrandt, who lived near the Jewish Quarter in Amsterdam and was acquainted with many Jews, captured his subject matter in objective or neutral poses. On example is the tiny etching, "Little Jewish Bridge" (1638), in which a woman wears the Breitling Navitimer Quartz Chronograph BT-189 Jewish wedding garb.
"Dr. Ephraim Bonus, Medicus Hebraeus," a mid-17th-century engraving by Dutch artist Jan Lievens, exalts the Jewish image. Bonus, a physician, humanist and scholar, was a prominent member of the Portuguese Jewish community in Amsterdam. In the portrait, the long-haired and bearded gentleman, sporting a kipa and otherwise Breitling Navitimer Quartz Chronograph BT-190 Dutch garb, is presented in a dignified manner befitting his accomplishments.
Born in Israel on a kibbutz outside Netanya, La'or, 21, and a senior at Oberlin, has lived in the United States since 1981. The articulate art history major admits she had both a scholarly and personal interest in her subject matter. "I really wanted to see myself on the museum wall and it isn't often you get to do that," she says.