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Narkiss, Bezalellocked

(b Jerusalem, Dec 14, 1926; d Jerusalem, June 29, 2008).
  • Herbert Kessler

Israeli art historian of Jewish art. Educated first at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, he moved to London and earned an MA in art history at the Courtauld Institute (1959) and a PhD at the Warburg Institute (1962). Returning to Jerusalem, Narkiss rose steadily through the ranks from 1963 when he began teaching at the Hebrew University and, in 1984, was appointed Nicolas Landau Professor of Art History. He also held fellowships and visiting positions at: Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies in Washington, DC (1969–70); the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (1979–80); the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University (1983), Brown University in Providence, RI (1984–5); the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris (1987–8); the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts in Washington, DC (Samuel H. Kress Professor 1997–8); and Princeton University (1998–9). A volume of the Journal of Jewish Art was dedicated to him on his 60th birthday and The Real and Ideal Jerusalem in Jewish, Christian and Islamic Art honored his 70th. In 1999, he received the Israel Prize for his extraordinary contributions to Jewish culture.

After establishing The Journal of Jewish Art (later Jewish Art) of which he was chief editor from 1974 to 1985 and the Index of Jewish Art, Narkiss founded the Center for Jewish Art in 1978 at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem to promote the study and preservation of the diverse manifestations of Jewish artistic culture. He himself published more than sixty articles and book chapters on the subject, introductions to six facsimiles, and essential catalogues. In line with his conviction that Jewish art was best understood in relation to other cultures, he also studied Christian and Islamic art, producing notable scholarship on Early Christian, Armenian, Byzantine and Carolingian subjects. A year before he died, Narkiss produced a complex monograph on the Ashburnham Pentateuch (Paris, Bib. N., MS. nouv. acq. 2334).


  • Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts from Jerusalem Collections (Jerusalem, 1967)
  • Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts (Jerusalem, 1969)
  • El Pentateuco Ashbunham. La illustracíon en la antigüedad tardía (Valencia, 2007)


  • B. Kühnel: The Real and Ideal Jerusalem in Jewish, Christian and Islamic Art (Jerusalem, 1998), pp. xv–xviii) [bibliog. of Narkiss’s works up to 1998]