A young woman with flowing tresses leans Tower of Pisa-like, as she eyes the viewer from within a football-shaped frame. Rendered softly in red Conté crayon, the 1840s drawing might be a self-portrait of the artist, Kate Salaman.
Salaman, who was one of 14 siblings born into a literary, Spanish and Portuguese Jewish family in London, was “one of the very earliest British-Jewish female artists,” according to the New York City auction house Kestenbaum & Company, which expects the drawing to sell for between $10,000 and $15,000 on Jan. 11.
A member of the prestigious Royal Academy of Art, Salaman was known for her miniature portraits, according to Kestenbaum, which notes the work it is selling is a “particular exquisite drawing” of an “unnamed pre-Raphaelite woman.” Salaman, who was born in 1821, lived just 35 years.
She was “a completely under-the-radar British-Jewish female artist of the first half of the 19th century,” Daniel Kestenbaum, the auction house’s founder and director, told JNS.
Other items of note in the upcoming sale include a rare example of a brass artillery shell turned vase commemorating “the great war, Jerusalem, 1918”; a 1797 response that the Jewish scholar David Levi wrote to Thomas Paine defending Jewish scripture; and a 1917 lithograph Yiddish poster issued by the U.S. Food Administration stating, “You came here to find freedom, now you must help defend it. We must supply the Allies with wheat. Waste nothing.”
Also on sale are a circa 1920 souvenir of Palestine, including since-evaporated water from the Jordan River, Mount Moriah earth, Roman pottery from Ashkelon, flowers from Judean hills, and printed Hebrew, English and Arabic notes; in addition to five currency notes from the Theresienstadt concentration camp. Each of the latter features a portrait of Moses bearing the Ten Commandments with Hebrew text.