Vivian B. Mann z”l

Professor Emerita of Jewish Art and Visual Culture

Department: Jewish Art and Visual Culture , William Davidson Graduate School, Jewish Museum

Phone: (212) 678-8892


Building Room: Brush 410

Office Hours: By Appointment


BA, University of Washington; MA, Wichita State University; PhD, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University

Professor Vivian Mann is Professor Emerita of Jewish Art and Visual Culture at The Jewish Theological Seminary. For many years Dr. Mann was Morris and Eva Feld Chair of Judaica at The Jewish Museum, where she created numerous exhibitions and their catalogs, among them Gardens and Ghettos: The Art of Jewish Life in ItalyConvivencia: Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Medieval Spain; and, most recently, Morocco: Jews and Art in a Muslim Land. In 2010, Prof. Mann curated the exhibition Uneasy Communion: Jews, Christians and Altarpieces in Medieval Spain at the Museum of Biblical Art (MOBIA).

In 2000, her Jewish Texts on the Visual Arts was published by Cambridge University Press, and in 2005, her Art and Ceremony in Jewish Life: Essays in the History of Jewish Art was published by Pindar Press. Professor Mann’s many articles and lectures cover a broad range of topics in medieval art and the history of Jewish art. Dr. Mann has been a recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, an NEA Fellowship, and various NEH Fellowships. She has also been a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies, the Hebrew University. In 1999, Dr. Mann was awarded the Jewish Cultural Achievement Award in Jewish Thought by the National Foundation for Jewish Culture for her successful efforts at establishing a new field of Jewish studies and the Master’s Program at JTS. She was also elected to the prestigious American Academy of Jewish Research, and is a founding editor of Images: A Journal in Jewish Art and Visual Culture


  • Woodrow Wilson Fellowship
  • NDEA Title IV Fellowships (1977–1980) 
  • NEA Fellowship for Museum Professionals 
  • NEH Fellowship for Research 
  • NEH Collaborative Projects Grant for Interpretative Research
  • Jewish Cultural Achievement Award in Jewish Thought (National Foundation for Jewish Culture) 
  • Henry Allen Moe Prize for the Catalogue of Distinction in the Arts, NY State Historical Association, for Gardens & Ghettos 
  • American Philosophical Society Grant-in-Aid 
  • Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture Fellowship


  • “Synagogues of Spain and Portugal During the Middle Ages.” In Cambridge World History of Religious Architecture, edited by Richard Etlin. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016, forthcoming.
  • Decorating Synagogues in the Western Islamic World: The Role of Sephardi Traditionalism.” Edited by Mohammad Gharipour. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015, forthcoming. 
  • Review Essay on Falke Weisemann, The Esther Scroll (Cologne: Taschen, 2014). Images: A Journal of Jewish Art and Visual Culture 7 (2015).
  • “Observations on the Biblical Miniatures in Spanish Haggadot.” In Exodus in the Jewish Experience: Echoes and Reverberations, edited by Pamela Barmash and David Nelson, 167–90. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, Rowman and Littlefield, 2015. 
  • “A Shared Tradition: The Decorated Pages of Medieval Bibles and Qur’ans.” In The Edinburgh Companion to the Bible and the Arts, edited by Stephen Prickett, 161–74. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014. 
  • Jewish Art and Visual Culture: A Century of Academic Achievement.” Studia Rosenthaliana 45 (2014): 9–16. 
  • “Jewish Art/Jewish Law: A Case of Inverse Proportions.” In Landeshaupstadt Erfurt and Universität Erfurt, ErfurterSchriftenzurjüdischen Geschichte. Band 3: Bild und Text in jüdisch-christlichenKontextimMittelalter (Beiträge des Kolloquiumsvom 18.19. Juli 2012), (Jena/Quedlingburg: 2014), 16–31. 
  • “A Court Jew’s Silver Cup.” Metropolitan Museum Journal 43 (2008): 131–40. 
  • Art and Ceremony in Jewish Life: Essays in Jewish Art History. London: Pindar Press, 2005. 
  • “The Artistic Culture of Prague Jewry in the Late Middle Ages.” In Prague: The Crown of Europe 1347–1427, edited by Barbara Boehm. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005. German edition: Jiří Fait, edited by Karl IV. Kaiser. Berlin, 2005. 
  • “Toward an Iconography of Medieval Diaspora Synagogues,” EuropasJuden in Mittelalter, edited by Christoph Cluse, 365–76. Trier, Germany: Kliomedia, 2001. 
  • Jewish Texts on the Visual Arts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. 
  • Morocco:  Jews and Art in a Muslim Land. Coauthor and editor. London: Merrell, 2000.
  • From Court Jews to the Rothschilds: Art, Patronage, and Power, 1600–1800. Coeditor and author with Richard I. Cohen. New York and Munich: The Jewish Museum and Prestel Verlag, 1996.
  • Convivencia: Jews, Muslims and Christians in Medieval Spain. Coeditor and author. New York: G. Braziller and Company, 1992. 
  • The Precious Legacy:  Judaic Treasures from the Czechoslovak State Collections. Coauthor. New York: Summit Books, 1984. German edition: Das Jüdische Museum in Prag, 1992.
  • Gardens and Ghettos: The Art of Jewish Life in Italy. Coauthor and editor. Berkeley, Los Angeles, Oxford: University of California Press, 1989. Italian edition: I Tal Ya’: Duemillaanni arte e vita ebraica in Italia. Milan: Arnoldo Mondadori Arte, 1990.


  • “Decorating Synagogues in the Western Islamic World: The Role of Sephardi Traditionalism.” College Art Assn. Annual Meeting, 2015.
  • “Jewish Art & Material Culture.” Conference of the Assn. for Jewish Studies, 2014. 
  • “The New in Medieval Jewish Art & Architecture.” York University, 2014. 
  • “Jewish Patronage in Medieval Cologne.” University of Cologne, 2014. 
  • “Traditionalism in Sephardi Art.” St Cloud University, Baruch College, 2013. 
  • “Images on Jewish Ceremonial Art in Medieval and Early Modern Responsa.” Mellon Foundation Sawyer Seminar Program on Visual Exegesis, Emory University, 2013. 
  • “Daughters of Israel Who Create Textiles: A ‘New’ Set of Seventeenth-Century Italian Synagogue Decorations.” Conference of the Assn. of Jewish Studies, 2013. 
  • “Jewish Patronage and Collecting—a Tribute to Western Culture.” University of Heidelberg, 2007. 
  • “The Jewish Woman in Art.” Conference on the Jewish Woman, Jaca, Spain, 2007. 
  • “Beakers of the Burial Society of Worms.” Jewish Consumption and Material Culture in the Early Modern Period, University of Maryland, 2007. 
  • “Aspects of Jewish Ceremonial Art.” Symposium on Sacred Silver, Victoria & Albert Museum, 2005. 
  • “Clothing as Sign During the Middle Ages.” Association of Jewish Studies, 2005. 
  • “Behrend Lehmann, J. P. Morgan and the ‘Met.’ ” Conference of the Association for Jewish Studies, San Diego, 2006. 
  • “Spirituality and Jewish Ceremonial Art.” Orthodox Forum, Yeshiva University, 2001. 
  • “Museums and Identity.” The President’s Conference, The Hebrew University, 2000. 
  • “Issues Concerning Losses in Judaica.” Presidential Conference on Holocaust Assets, 2000. 
  • “Between Worshipper and Wall: The Place of Art in Liturgical Spaces.” Baltimore Hebrew University, 1999.
  • “The Art of Convivencia in Spain and Morocco.” World Bank Conference, 1999. 
  • “Torah Case/Qur’an Box, Avoda and Ibada.” Liturgy and Ritual in Islamic and Jewish Traditions, University of Denver, 1998. 
  • “Reconstructing the Sephardi Heritage of Ceremonial Art.” Symposium 1492, Montclair State College, 1992. 
  • “Sephardi Communal Art: Continuity in the Diaspora.” Seminar: Columbia University and JTS, 1992.
  • “Muslim Rugs in Ottoman Synagogue: The Evidence of the Responsa.” Jews in Turkey, Istanbul, 1992; College Art Assn. Conference, 1991; Congrés des études Européens juives, Troyes, 1991. 
  • “Jewish-Muslim Acculturation in the Ottoman Empire: The Evidence of Ceremonial Art.” 1987. 
  • “The Golden Age of Frankfurt Judaica.” World Congress of Jewish Studies, 1985. 
  • “Aspects of Jewish Ceremonial Art.” Medieval Art Forum, Columbia University, 1985. 
  • “Medieval Forms of Jewish Ceremonial Art.” International Symposium at the Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel, 1984. 
  • A Late Medieval Minnekästchen, International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, Mich. 1982.


Dr. Mann’s interests range from medieval art to Jewish ceremonial art of all periods. She has written on works in the collection of the Jewish Museum, New York, and on those in other collections, such as that of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, always placing the works within the contexts of Jewish culture and categories of art history. Her fields of interest include medieval Judaica, Sephardi art, the art of the Court Jews, and aspects of synagogue architecture. Vivian Mann is particularly interested in responsa literature that casts light on the commissioning of ceremonial art, the uses of Judaica, and the role of the artist. Her research resulted in the widely used text Jewish Texts on the Visual Arts (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990). She pioneered the study of Jewish life in Spain as depicted in altarpieces for the Church, the focus of a 2010 exhibition at MOBIA in New York.