Moritz Daniel Oppenheim lost painting to auction for $300,000

The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortata (1862), a lost painting by Moritz Daniel Oppenheim (1800-1882), will carry an estimate of $200,000-300,000 to Sotheby's on December 17.

The oil painting is the headline lot of the Important Judaica auction in New York.

The work is a reaction to the extraordinary case of Edgardo Mortata, a young Jewish boy from Bologna, Italy, who was removed from his family by Papal guards in 1858 after being secretly baptised by a maid.

Moritz Daniel Oppenheim
Public anger over the Mortata incident was a factor in the dissolution of Papal authority in 1870

Under the law of the Papal states, non-Christians were forbidden to raise Christian children. Edgardo was subsequently raised as a Catholic, eventually becoming an Augustine priest.

The painting was thought to have been lost until recently, when it reappeared after over 100 years.

Oppenheim is widely regarded as the first modern Jewish painter to deal with themes of identity and religion at a time when the prevailing culture was largely oppressive to minority religious groups, and Jews in particular.  

A 19th century miniature Torah scroll is valued at $200,000-300,000.

Scrolls of this size are exceptionally rare, due to the enormous degree of skill required in their production.

The parchment is also unusually thin, meaning that it is in accordance with the halakhic guidelines, which state that a ratio of 3:2 between the height and width of the scroll should be maintained.

It is the smallest scroll to be offered at auction for over 35 years.

A sale of Israeli art will also take place at Sotheby's on December 17.

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