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Model of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in a Bottle

Moses Formstecher (1760-1836)
Offenbach (Germany), 1813
  • Glass: half-post blown; wood: painted; metal
  • 11 1/4 x 5 in. (28.6 x 12.7 cm)
  • The Jewish Museum, New York
  • Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Bial, JM 21-79a
  • Digital image © 2006 The Jewish Museum, New York Photo by Ardon Bar Hama
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Model of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in a Bottle

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Model of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in a Bottle

Although Solomon's Temple no longer exists, we can envision its appearance from the Bible's description of a magnificent building made of costly woods and having gilded decorations and furnishings of pure gold. Jews around the world have prayed that the magnificent sanctuary would be rebuilt in the messianic era. Artists through the ages have imaginatively interpreted the biblical description to recreate the Temple in paintings, illustrations, and ritual art. However, the form that this example takes--of a Temple model in a bottle--is unique.

How did Formstecher fit his creation into this thin-necked bottle? People often assume with such works that the bottles are created or completed around the models. Generally, however, the pieces of the model are inserted unfinished into an existing bottle. The maker then completes the assembly inside the bottle, with the help of long, thin, specialized tools and lots of patience.