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Growing assimilation of the German Jews in the second half of the 19th century resulted in their adopting of the values and lifestyle of the non-Jewish middle class. These cups were made for the Einstein family a few years after the birth of Albert’s sister, Maja, in the early 1880s. During this period, the Einsteins led a steady middle-class life in Munich. When Albert Einstein immigrated to the United States, he took the cups with him. They were part of Einstein’s household in Princeton, New Jersey, where the scientist settled down. Several years after Einstein’s death in 1955, his personal assistant, Helen Dukas, donated the cups to the Leo Back Institute.
Albert Einstein was a Nobel Prize Winning physicist born in Ulm, Germany in 1879. He completed his secondary education in Switzerland, during which period he renounced his citzenship of Württemberg to avoid military service. He met his first wife, Mileva Marić, while attending Zürich Polytechnic. The couple married in 1903 and had two sons, Hans Albert and Eduard, before divorcing in 1919. That same year, Einstein married his cousin, Elsa Löwenthal, and adopted her two daughters (Margot and Ilse). The Einsteins were visiting the U.S. in 1933 when the Nazis rose to power. He and Elsa waited until the end of his visiting professorship at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena before traveling to Belgium to renounce their citizenship at the German consulate. Upon his return to the United States, Einstein began teaching at Princeton University. During World War II, Einstein worked on the Manhattan Project. He became a U.S. citizen in 1940. Aside from his scientific contributions, Einstein traveled the world, played violin, and was an avid— though unskilled—sailor. He also supported Zionism, socialism, and civil rights. Einstein died in Princeton, New Jersey in 1955 from a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm. His brain was removed during the autopsy and used for research, while the rest of his remains were cremated.
Maja Einstein was the sister of Albert Einstein. She was born in 1881, after the family had moved and established an electrical engineering company in Munich, and later relocated to Milan with her parents. In 1909, she graduated from the University of Bern. A year later she married Paul Winteler and the couple moved to Luzern, where Paul found work. In 1922 they relocated to Colonnata, Italy. However, after Benito Mussolini rose to power and enforced anti-semetic laws, Albert Einstein urged the couple to emigrated to the United States in 1939. While her husband was denied entry due to health issues, Maja lived with her brother at his home in Princeton, New Jersey. She was bedridden following a stroke in 1946 and her health progressively declined until her death in 1951.
The Nymphenburg Porcelain Manufactory has produced porcelain since mid-18th century. The factory is part of Nymphenburg Palace in Munich.
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Staatliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Nymphenburg: Albert and Maja Einstein chocolate cups, Leo Baeck Institute Art and Objects Collection, 61.107a-d.
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