In a way not dissimilar from today’s YouTube dissemination of moving images, the printing press allowed for a far-reaching distribution of information over several centuries.
A book that changed the perception of synagogue life was Bernard & Picart’s Religious Ceremonies and Customs of All the Peoples of the World (1723-1743), which included a host of engravings by Bernard Picart.
We looked at some of Picart’s engravings in class today, comparing them with contemporary depictions of synagogue life provided by digitally distributed videos.
This very important book (and many of its editions in various languages) has been made digitally available by the UCLA Library in a joint project with the Getty Research Institute, Utrecht University, and the Huntington Library.
Cérémonies et coutumes religieuses de tous les peuples du monde(1723-1743) is a nine-volume folio work published by Jean Frederic Bernard, a French language bookseller in Amsterdam, and lavishly illustrated by Bernard Picart, one of the most famous engravers of the time. As their title suggests, they sought to capture the ritual and ceremonial life of all the known religions of the world. Because Bernard chose to remain anonymous as author, the work has long been catalogued under the name of its engraver, Picart. “Picart,” as many readers called it, helped create the study of comparative religion and had a long-lasting influence on the representations of the world’s religions in the West.
You can also check out Samantha Baskind’s excellent article on “Bernard Picart’s Etchings of Amsterdam’s Jews” (in Jewish Social Studies 13/2, 2007).