Ephraim Moses Lilien

The first Zionist artist /

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Ephraim Moses Lilien (אפרים משה ליליין) was born in 1874 and he was an art nouveau illustrator and print-maker particularly noted for his art on Jewish themes. As a member of the Zionist Movement (ציונות‬), Lilien traveled to Ottoman Palestine several times between 1906 and 1918. He accompanied Boris Schatz (בוריס שץ‬) to Jerusalem to help establish the Bezalel Art School. Lilien was one of the two artists to accompany Boris Schatz to Eretz Israel (ארץ ישראל) in 1906 for the purpose of establishing Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design (בצלאל בן אורי), and taught the school’s first class in 1906.  Although his stay in the country was short-lived, he left his indelible stamp on the creation of an Eretz Israel style, placing biblical subjects in the Zionist context and oriental settings, conceived in an idealized Western design.

In the first two decades of the century, Lilien’s work served as a model for the Bezalel group. Lilien is known for his famous photographic portrait of Theodor Herzl. He often used Herzl as a model, considering his features a perfect representation of the New Jew. In 1896, he received an award for photography from the avantgarde magazine Jugend. Lilien illustrated several books. In 1923, an exhibition of his work opened in New York. Lilien died in Badenweiler, Germany in 1925.

A street in the Nayot neighborhood of Jerusalem is named for him.

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