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The Eternal

  • Object:

    Design for stained glass

  • Place of origin:

    London (designed)

  • Date:

    2003-2004 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Taylor Jacobson, Ruth (artist (stained glass))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pencil, watercolour and collage on paper

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level D, case CG, shelf 109

This is a design mainly made from torn pieces of a photographic reproduction of an earlier design for a stained glass panel by Ruth Taylor Jacobson for the Jewish part of the Sacred Silver and Stained Glass Gallery in the V&A. The use of collage made from a photographic reproduction of an earlier draft gives the impression of a finished design because the drawn lines are not in pencil but are photographic, printed lines. The Torah has a thick, three-dimensional presence created by the pieces of tablet made from handmade paper. This is a finished design towards the end of the design process, and may be a presentation design for the client.

Physical description

A rectangular design in pencil, watercolour and collage made from torn pieces of a photographic reproduction of a design for this window, hand-made paper, and fragments of a photographic reproduction of Hebrew text. The design has wide margins at the sides and bottom and is on cream coloured wove paper. It depicts a stag at bottom left, a rearing lion at bottom right, above which is the unfurling scroll of the Torah, and a mother eagle feeding its young.

Place of Origin

London (designed)


2003-2004 (designed)


Taylor Jacobson, Ruth (artist (stained glass))

Materials and Techniques

Pencil, watercolour and collage on paper


Height: 56.4 cm, Width: 38.3 cm

Object history note

The main colours that Ruth Taylor Jacobson, the artist, has chosen are those suggested to Moses for the regalia of the High Priest: 'And he made the ephod of gold, blue, and purple and scarlet and fine twined linen' Exodus 39, v.2. In the centre of the window is an image of the Torah, the scroll unfurling: the artist drew it from an image of scrolls that had been torn and desecrated during the Kishinev pogrom of 1903. In her design, there are references to trees important in Jewish tradition. A gnarled, ancient olive-tree (whose fruit produces rich oil, giving sustenance to humans, physical and spiritual light) rises between the deer and the lion. To the left of the scroll, is the branch of a palm tree, (symbolising beauty and fruitfulness) to which there are many references in the Bible. It is one of the 'four species' carried in procession around the synagogue during the festival of Tabernacles. To the left of the scroll is a branch of pomegranates. The pomegranate has spiritual symbolism; its many seeds represent the six hundred and thirteen 'mitzvot' (religious duties) performed by observant Jews. In the lower right hand side is an image of a lion, symbolising the lion of Judah. The lion in this design grasps the trunk of the 'Tree of Life', and upholds the Scroll of the Law. To the left of the lion is an image of a stag, the stag is a symbol of Naphtali, who hurried back from Egypt to Canaan, to tell the aged Patriarch Jacob that his beloved son Joseph was still alive. The artist's inspiration for the stag in this design, which kneels, with one hoof raised, is from a brass Hanukkah lamp from Poland, in the V&A's collection.

Above the Torah is an image of an eagle which in the Jewish tradition is a metaphor for God's protection. And above the mother eagle (shown feeding her young) floats a vision of Jerusalem. To the left is the charred, destroyed city. In Jewish tradition, pillars symbolised the ancient Temple, and were often represented with a vine growing spirally upwards. In early illustrations these pillars had tear-drops painted on them, as if the ruins of the Temple were weeping for the Jews in exile, but later the tears become modified into grapes, a symbol of continuing growth and fruitfulness. The artist has included such a pillar on the left of her design, above the stag. Above the image of Jerusalem, is the sun, partially encircled by a crescent moon, with the inscription: 'The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.' Psalm 121, v. 6.

At the top of the window are hands held up in the gesture of priestly blessing. The motif is found in many contexts, notably on tombstones of Cohanim (priests) or on Mizrahim', indicating the east wall within a room, the direction towards which one turns to pray. In this design the hands take the form of flames. Within the flame-like hands is held a small menorah (candelabrum), a reminder of the Menorah created for Moses' tabernacle and several centuries later for the Temple of Jerusalem.

Descriptive line

A rectangular design on a rectangular sheet of paper. The design is a brightly coloured collage and has wide margins of cream-coloured wove paper at the sides and bottom. It depicts a yellow stag bottom left, a rearing lion bottom right, the Torah scroll in the centre, and two eagles at the top.


Pencil; Watercolour; Paper


Collage; Drawing; Painting

Subjects depicted

Stag; Judaism; Collage; Palm leaf; Eagle; Lion; Pomegranates; Torah scroll


Judaism; Stained Glass; Designs


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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