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The Eternal

  • Object:

    Stained glass window

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    2004-2005 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Taylor Jacobson, Ruth (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Glass and lead

  • Credit Line:

    Commissioned through the John S. Cohen Foundation

  • Museum number:

    C.16:1 to 3-2005

  • Gallery location:

    Sacred Silver & Stained Glass, Room 83, The Whiteley Galleries, case BAY4 []

The window was a special commission for the Sacred Silver and Stained Glass gallery that opened in the V&A in 2005.

It shows traditional imagery used in Jewish art, such as the lion (symbol of the tribe of Judah), the stag (symbol of the tribe of Naphtali) and the eagle, which in the Jewish faith represents God's protection. In the centre of the window is the Torah, a scroll containing the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. It is unfurled at a verse from Leviticus which translates as, 'Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself'.

Physical description

This window is comprised of three sections which form a whole.The lower section (C.16:3-2005) has imagery representing a stag and the lion, the mid section (C.16:2-2005) depicts the unfurled Torah, pomegranates and pillar, the upper section (C.16:1-2005) depicts the priestly hands and the Menorah.

The main colours for the window that 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 descecrated 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 human sustenance, phyical 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.Ruth Jacobsons 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 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 ilustrations 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 inscrption: 'The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night'. Pslam 121, v.6.
At the top of the window are hands held up in the gesture of priestly blessing. This 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 in Jerusalem.

Place of Origin

London (made)


2004-2005 (made)


Taylor Jacobson, Ruth (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Glass and lead

Object history note

This stained glass window was commissioned for the new Sacred silver and stained glass galleries and funded through the John S Cohen Foundation

Descriptive line

Stained glass window, made by Ruth Taylor Jacobson, London 2004/5


Glass; Lead; Solder

Subjects depicted

Lion; Tree; Tree; Deer; Torah scroll


Stained Glass; Judaism; British Galleries


Ceramics Collection

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