Herzl’s Image and the Messianic Idea

Artur Kamczycki

Theodor Herzl (1860–1904) is credited for laying foundations of the political Zionism the aim of which was to be recognizable on the literal as well as visual level. As a result of this postulate Zionism promoted itself by means of various visual arts and viewed them as an important Zionist medium. In this way, the image of Herzl became an incarnation of Zionism and an expression of its ideas. His figure was a multilayered carrier showing the ideology’s evolution and providing the point of departure for many motifs and iconographic themes employed by the movement. One of them is the so-called Messianic theme that can be derived from the Zionist projection of the leader’s image. Although Herzl is not directly portrayed as the Messiah, there are certain elements implied in his images that drove the development of his Messianic myth. Herzl’s image, personality, politics and his ability to wake up the Jewish masses from a “deep slumber” by bringing up their “hidden powers,” all evoked associations with the Messiah. Mythical and idealistic elements as well as emotions connected with this figure were mostly focused around the Messianic message.
Słowa kluczowe: Theodor Herzl, Zionism, Messianism, Zionist iconography, Jewish art