Lilien, Ephraim Moses

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LILIEN, EPHRAIM MOSES (1874–1925), Austrian illustrator and printmaker. Lilien was born in Drohobycz, Galicia. He studied art in Cracow for a short time, but lack of funds forced him to return home. He eventually earned enough as a sign painter to go to the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. In 1895 he worked in Munich as a cartoonist, where he obtained his first commission for the magazine Jugend; three years later he moved to Berlin, where he soon became known as a book illustrator. Lilien was the first artist to become involved in the Zionist movement. He took an active part in three consecutive Zionist Congresses and was a member of the *Democratic Fraction, which stressed the need to foster Jewish culture. In 1900 there was published Juda, a volume of ballads on Old Testament themes by a pro-Zionist German poet, Boerries Freiherr von Muenchhausen, illustrated by Lilien. This was followed by Lieder des Ghetto in which social adversity and the rejection of poor Jews were reflected. In 1902 he was one of the founders of the Berlin publishing house, *Juedischer Verlag, which he served not only as an illustrator but also as editor, manager, and publicity agent. Between 1908 and 1912 three volumes, of its planned ten, illustrated books of the Bible appeared. He collaborated closely with Theodor *Herzl; Lilien's photograph of the Zionist leader on the Rhine bridge, his Herzl portraits, and his decorations for the Golden Book of the Jewish National Fund became familiar to Zionists all over the world. In 1905 Lilien, along with Boris *Schatz and others, was a member of the committee formed to establish the *Bezalel School of Art in Jerusalem. He taught there for some months in the following year and revisited Palestine three times, on the last occasion as a lieutenant in the Austro-Hungarian army during World War i. In 1908 Lilien turned from book illustration to etching. Many of his etchings are views of Austria and Hungary, while others record his impressions of Palestine, Damascus, and Beirut. His drawings, executed mainly in India ink, show a crisp, elegant line and a strong contrast between black and white areas. Lilien combined biblical and traditional Jewish themes with the motifs and methods of Art Nouveau. His art expressed Jewish hopes and desires in the era of Zionism that looked beyond the exile.


M.S. Levussove, The New Art of an Ancient People: The Work of Ephraim Moses Lilien (1906), includes plates; L. Brieger, E.M. Lilien (1922), includes bibliography. add. bibliography: O. Almog and G. Milchram (eds.), E.M. Lilien. JugendstilErotikZionismus, Exh. cat. Juedischen Museums Wien (1998); M. and O. Bar-Am (ed. N. Feldman), Painting with Light: the Photographic Aspect in the Work of E.M. Lilien (1991); H. Finkelstein, E.M. Lilien in the Middle East, Etchings (1908–25) (1988); Galerie Michael Hasenclever, E.M. Lilien. Unterwegs im alten Orient. Der Radierer und Lichtzeichner Ephraim Moses Lilien (2004).

[Alfred Werner /

Jihan Radjai-Ordoubadi (2nd ed.)]