Painted Tombstones

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

This is a cross-post from my Jewish Heritage blog

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

During my recent trip visiting Jewish heritage sites in Slovakia, I came across some artwork that demonstrated the way Jewish gravestones were often painted in various colors to emphasize the carved ornamentation. (I have posted on this in the past, and have also posted pictures showing gravestones in Romania, Poland and Ukraine where you can still see traces of such polychrome decoration.)

The watercolor pictured above is a view of theĀ  Jewish cemetery in Ungvar (today Uzhorod, Ukraine) painted in 1930, apparently by Eugen Barkany, who assembled the wonderful collection of Judaica and other objects that formed the basis of the Jewish museum founded in Presov, in eastern Slovakia, in 1928. (At the time both Uzhorod and Presov were part of Czechoslovakia — to see old postcards of Uzhorod, click HERE.) The painting clearly shows the polychrome decoration.

The Barkany collection is now displayed in the women’s gallery of the marvelously ornate Orthodox synagogue in Presov, a stop of the Slovak Jewish Heritage route (scroll down for previous posts on this route).

Here are some other paintings of cemeteries and stones by Barkany, from 1930, on display:

Can’t read it well — but, Humenne? (near Presov)
Lwow/L’viv — tomb of the “Golden Rose” (cemetery has been destroyed)