The Jews of Rome between Segregation and Emancipation
(Jewish Museum of Rome)
Exhibition curated by Francesco Leone and Giorgia Calò
November 10, 2021 – May 27, 2022
On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of Rome as the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, the Jewish community of Rome and the Foundation for the Jewish Museum of Rome inaugurated the exhibition 1849-1871. The Jews of Rome between Segregation and Emancipation, open to the public from November 10, 2021 to May 27, 2022. The exhibition makes use of loans from the most important Italian museums of the Risorgimento and prestigious private collections, with the aim of making known and recounting the commitment and involvement of Italian Jews in the period of the Risorgimento, with particular attention to the role of the Jewish community of Rome. Thanks to the targeted selection of works – including paintings, sculptures and documents – it has been possible to highlight the contribution of Jews in the fields of arts, politics and culture who worked for the unification of the country, giving us a complete picture of the role of Italian Jews during the Risorgimento and the special relationship between the Italian Jewish communities and the new Kingdom of Italy. The Jewish communities of the peninsula participated heartily in the revolutionary phenomenon with the aim of claiming their full Italianness and at the same time demonstrating that their religious beliefs could merge with the civil ideal of the worship of the Nation advocated by Giuseppe Mazzini, thus interweaving Jewish values with Italian ones. The effervescence of the historical moment and the interaction that existed between the different cultural environments stand out through the stories of various figures, from Massimo d’Azeglio to Giuseppe Mazzini, from Isacco Artom to Giacomo Segre, from Sara Levi Nathan to Samuele Alatri, narrated through paintings, sculptures and numerous exchanges of correspondence. A focus has been dedicated to Jewish soldier-painters. Among these is Serafino De Tivoli, who played a fundamental role in the development of Macchiaioli painting together with Vito D’Ancona; the Piedmontese Raffaele Pontremoli and the Ligurian Alberto Issel, emblematic figures who flanked the battle rifles with brushes to represent them. From all these stories emerges the complicated process of emancipation well represented by other emblematic figures, such as the famous publisher Emilio Treves from Trieste, who closes the exhibition, remembered by the portrait painted in 1907 by Vittorio Matteo Corcos from Livorno of Jewish origins, portraitist of the House of Savoy. As for the rest of the Jewish communities, after the Breach of Porta Pia, on September 20, 1870, a new page opened for the Roman Jews, finally free and emancipated after centuries of oppression. It was complex and not without pitfalls, and it was necessary to balance integration in a secular and modern key with the preservation of an ancient cultural and religious identity that was too often threatened. The exhibition is accompanied by a sound installation with music composed during the period of the Risorgimento: the hymn Italia and Vittorio Emanuele II, composed by the well-known Roman Jewish musician Amadio Di Segni with words by Crescenzo Alatri, and Annoten Teshua (blessing to the sovereign), a traditional Roman song harmonized by Maestro Amadio Di Segni.
The exhibition has been made possible thanks to the generous support of Acea SpA, the David Berg Foundation, Ronald S. Lauder and an international philanthropic foundation, and it has been realized with the collaboration of the Dipartimento Beni e Attività Culturali of the Jewish Community of Rome, the Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali and the Ministero degli Affari Esteri e della Cooperazione Internazionale.