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Hugo Ballin's Los Angeles

Caroline Luce, Author

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Wilshire Boulevard Temple - The Processional

  • In Magnin's Words
  • Allegory and History
  • Source/Citations

Rabbi Edgar F. Magnin described Ballin's murals in a book published in 1974:
"Jews in Spain removing the Torah Scrolls from the Ark, getting ready for their journey out of the country. The light shines through the Synagogue windows. The everlasting lamp hangs in front of the Ark.
This picture typifies the exile of the Jews from country to country and particularly from Spain in 1492. Wherever the Jews wandered they carried the Torah with them in their arms and in their hearts.
Figure of Youth with arm outstretched, hand holding a wand from which light radiates. He typifies hope for the future."

Here, as in the previous portion of the mural, Ballin depicts a historical scene meant to represent a broader phenomenon in Jewish history: exile. This processional is departing directly from the Inquisition scene (discussed in the previous page), showing how the Jews responded to the specter of terror he depicted there, but other than the proximity to that scene, there is very little here to indicate that this scene takes place in Spain. While Ballin used distinctive costumes and decorative motifs to signify the historical periods in previous portions of the murals, here he focuses on human figures in the processional, creating a more universal scene to suggest that it could have occurred in cities, towns and villages throughout Europe.

On the far right is an allegorical figure representing youth, a frequent feature of Ballin's murals, providing a hopeful finish to contrast with the terror in the previous panel and the somberness of the procession. Its inclusion suggests that Ballin felt a a sincere sense of optimism about his historical moment and the dynamic changes occurring in Los Angeles at the time. A similar sense of optimism can be seen in many of his corporate commissions in the 1920s and early 1930s.

Caption from Rabbi Edgar F. Magnin's book, The Warner Murals in the Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Los Angeles, California, published by the Wilshire Boulevard Temple, 1974.

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