Leonora Carrington (English B. 1917)
Leonora Carrington (English B. 1917)

Bobbeh Zaide

Leonora Carrington (English B. 1917)
Bobbeh Zaide
signed 'LEONORA CARRINGTON' (lower left), inscribed 'BUBBA, Zaida,' and 'LC, NYC 1987' (on the reverse)
acrylic on canvas
24 x 30 in. (61 x 76 cm.)
Painted in 1987.
Brewster Gallery, New York.
Private collection, New York.
Exhibition catalogue, Leonora Carrington: Recent Works, New York, Brewster Gallery, 1988.
A. Schlieker, Leonora Carrington: Paintings, drawings and sculptures 1940-1990, Serpentine Gallery, London, 1991, p. 90, no. 63 (illustrated in color).
New York, Brewster Gallery, Leonora Carrington: Recent Works, May - June 1988.
London, Serpentine Gallery, Leonora Carrington: Paintings, drawings and sculptures 1940-1990, December 1991 - January 1992, no. 63.

Lot Essay

As Leonora Carrington has aged, her personages have aged with her. She was seventy-years-old when, while living in New York City, she painted Bobbeh Zaide (1987), which in Yiddish means Grandmother Grandfather. Since that time, Carrington has not produced other works related to Kabbalah, the word in Hebrew's for 'received tradition'. Carrington began studying Jewish mysticism in Mexico, after settling there in the winter of 1942. Among other rituals and customs, Kabbalah presents a series of symbols that spread belief in the transmigration of souls. Kabbalists claim their tradition was originally given to Moses at Sinai together with the Ten Commandments.

In Bobbeh Zaide, Carrington narrates an afterlife reunion between grandparents shortly after Grandfather's death. During their lifetime, as religious Jews, the couple faithfully obeyed the Jewish Law. In the afterlife, the soul remains attached to the physical body after death for the first seven days, therefore it may be assumed that Grandfather has recently died as his physical body and soul have not separated. The scene in the painting takes place at nighttime; the couple in heaven is surrounded by stars. Grandfather sits in a chair that rests on a nebula of interstellar dust, waiting for Gd to appear to him. (In the Hebrew Bible, it is unacceptable to spell out Gd's name so one abbreviates it.) Grandfather's feet are discalced as he must follow the tradition of taking one's shoes off when standing on holy ground as Gd ordered Moses while standing in front of the Burning Bush. Grandmother has no shoes to take off as she no longer has human legs or feet. Having transmigrated into a hybrid half-human and half-bird, she has grown bright-plumaged wings with which she can fly.

Although she died long ago, Grandmother continues to follow the orthodox mandate of wearing a wig as an expression of modesty. Grandfather also follows the orthodox laws of covering his head as an expression of respect, a way of acknowledging there is something higher above him. His hair is worn long, as well as his beard and his forelocks which he does not cut or shave, as it is not permitted for a razor to touch his skin.

Carrington has captured the old married couple in the loving moment when Grandmother has flown to greet Grandfather on his arrival in heaven. As they reach out to each other, Grandfather is still stunned by his recent death, but Grandmother joyfully smiles, glad to see him.

Salomon Grimberg
Dallas, Texas, April 2006

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