Chanukiah with Doves
Moshe Oved (aka Edward Good) was an émigré writer, sculptor, and founder of the antique jewellery shop Cameo Corner. He left his native Poland in 1903 and settled in London’s East End, where he initially worked as a watchmaker. He was a founding member of the Ben Uri Society and a great supporter of Yiddish culture, holding an honorary office within Ben Uri from 1915–56 and always maintaining that its main goal should be to collect pictures and open a gallery. The collection in these years was influenced by his taste as he helped to fund and facilitate the acquisition of a number of important early works by artists including Simeon Solomon, Jacob Kramer, David Bomberg and Samuel Hirszenberg. Oved was a great character, who presided over Cameo Corner in Museum Street in flowing purple robes regaling his customers – among whom Queen Mary was a regular – with well-honed anecdotes – and building a reputation as a recognised authority on cameos, antique watches and clocks. Anecdotal evidence suggests that in 1933 Oved sold the Mozaic Faberge Egg to King George V for £250 pounds, possibly as a gift for Queen Mary’s birthday.
Oved’s first book in Yiddish, Aroys fun Khaos (Out of Chaos, 1918), was followed by Lebns Lider (1924). In Visions and Jewels (1925), a collection of 124 autobiographical stories and short tales, he wrote about Nahum Sokolow, Max Nordau, Sholem Asch and Jacob Epstein, who all came to speak at Ben Uri, among many others. The Book of Affinity (1933) was a deluxe production with original colour lithographs by Epstein; Oved also presented two busts by Epstein, and to the Ben Uri, both in 1947. According to one story, it was while sheltering in the basement of Cameo Corner during the Blitz, that Oved first began modelling animal design rings to steady his trembling hands. He took up sculpting at the end of the war in his sixties and created a series of small bronze heads and a number of candelabra to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust. Chanukiah with Doves is one of 11 works by Oved in the Ben Uri Collection, which also includes a group of heads, designs for commemorative rings and a highly individual menorah. The Collection also includes a fine 1924 Portrait of Moshe Oved by fellow Pole Maurice Minkowski (1881–1930).