"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Dr. Charles Fleischer

This 1903 Charcoal portrait of Dr. Charles Fleischer by John Singer Sargent appeared in an exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery, in Washington, DC.
Dr. Charles Fleischer 1871-1942

Born in humble circumstances in Breslau, Germany (now Wrocław, Poland). Charles Fleischer immigrated to the United States in 1880. As the charismatic rabbi of Temple Adath Israel in Boston from 1895 to 1911, he championed a radical reinterpretation of Judaism that linked it to progressive causes and American democracy, which he considered “potentially a universal spiritual principle, aye, a religion.” The rabbi's services attracted an eclectic group of Jewish and non-Jewish liberals and intellectuals. Sargent, a good friend, thought Fleischer resembled Edgar Allan Poe and bore out the likeness in this drawing.

Increasingly averse to religious division, by 1912 Fleischer had opened the non-sectarian congregation Sunday Commons. There, he continued to advocate for social justice and the power of democratic principles to unify America's ethnically diverse society. Seeking a wider audience, Fleischer eventually relocated to New York City in 1922 and spent the rest of his career working for the Evening Journal and as a radio commentator and lecturer. -- NPG
To Dr. Charles Fleischer  John S. Sargent 1903


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