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Freud of the Rings

Edited by Morag Wilhelm

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A modern gold ring set with an ancient gemstone that was presented by Freud to one of his students found its way to the collections of the Israel Museum, prompting archaeology curator Morag Wilhelm to raise a host of intriguing questions: how did the ring reach the Museum? Why was it given as a gift? What is engraved on its stone and what did it represent? Her research revealed that the father of psychoanalysis – who was also an amateur archaeologist – offered such rings to the members of his close circle, perhaps signaling in this way that they belonged to some kind of select society. During her research, Wilhelm discovered the existence of additional rings, several of which were displayed together for the first time in the interdisciplinary exhibition that this publication accompanied. The interpretation of the rings presented here combines a study of the images on their stones from an art-historical perspective with details from Freud’s life and writings, especially those pertaining to his relationships during the period he worked to develop psychoanalysis and establish it as a scientific discipline. The elegant volume features articles by Morag Wilhelm and by analyst and historian Eran Rolnik, as well as excerpts from Freud’s correspondence and a rich selection of documentary images and photographs of the rings.

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