For almost a century and a half “The kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara”, the painting realized in 1862 by Moritz Daniel Oppenheim, was thought to be lost. It then re-emerged in 2013 and was bought by the American Schottenstein family, thus remaining in the hands of privates and away from public exhibitions and museums. Until now. Representing the dramatic story of the Italian child abducted in 1858 by the Church from his Jewish family, a case that became of international resonance, the painting is now among the protagonists of the exhibition Beyond the Ghetto. Inside & Out, open at the National Museum of Italian Judaism and the Shoah of Ferrara until May 15.
Thanks to a loan from the Schottenstein family, for the first time in 150 years the work is now on display to the general public. Among those who, with great emotion, could admire it there are also the descendants of little Edgardo: Carlo Andrea, Elèna, Paola, and Giorgio, the child’s great-grandchildren. Their grandparents, Vittorio and Roberto Mortara, were brothers of Ernesta, Edgardo’s older sister.
“The arrival of this painting is an event to be celebrated for Jewish Italy and beyond. In the painting there is the story of an event that marked the history of Italian Judaism and the entire country”, said Elèna Mortara to Pagine Ebraiche. Author of the book Writing for Justice dedicated to the Mortara case, Elèna with her brothers Carlo Andrea and Paola and her cousin Giorgio, vice president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, took the opportunity to be portrayed next to the painting.
Above, “The kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara” from the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Family Collection of Judaica now on display at the MEIS.