Conference Proceeding: Crying over Spilled Ink: A Century of John Singer Sargent's "The Synagogue" in the Boston Public Library

Among the beautiful murals produced by John Singer Sargent for the Boston Public Library, The Synagogue stands out for its fraught history. While recognizing Sargent's exceptional artistic achievement, the community of Boston and beyond met this piece's installation with resistance. For several years following its initial unveiling in 1919, public debate raged over whether the piece reinforced past prejudice, taking place in printed words, in legislation in the Massachusetts State House, and in splashing ink on the painting itself. This case study of responses to the mural and controversy around its continued presence in the library sheds light on the representation of Judaism in public spaces, specifically the role of the public library as a forum for the Jewish community's negotiation of this representation.

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