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Moritz Daniel Oppenheim's life reflects the new possibilities opened up to Jews by the emancipation. Born in the Hanau ghetto, near Frankfurt, he was raised in a strictly Orthodox home, but his parents raised no objections to their son's artistic aspirations. Oppenheim received his art training in Hanau, Frankfurt, Munich and Paris. From 1821 to 1825, Oppenheim lived in Rome, then the European art center. Having obtained the patronage of Adolph Rothschild on a trip to Naples in 1823, Oppenheim's career was launched. After his return to Frankfurt, his clientele included the five Rothschild brothers and, through Goethe, the protection of the Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar. His fame later in life was based on his 'Scenes of Traditional Jewish Family Life'. They were popular in reproductions all over Europe. His career marks a significant turning point in the modern history of Jewish artists, since Oppenheim was the first to attain general prominence while remaining an observant Jew throughout his life.
The brothers Johannes and Phillip Veit were artists who belonged to the Nazarene movement of German Romantic artists working in Rome. Their maternal grandfather was the Jewish German philosopher Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786), but both brothers converted to Catholicism.
The politician Gabriel Riesser (1806-1863) was a champion of Jewish emancipation in Germany. Born in Hamburg, Riesser studied law at the universities of Kiel and Heidelberg. In 1849/49 he served as vice-president for the German National Assembly in Frankfurt/Main.
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Oppenheim, Moritz Daniel, 1799-1882: Oppenheim painting a self portrait : with a portrait of Gabriel Riesser (1806-1863), Leo Baeck Institute Art and Objects Collection, 78.455.
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