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Obj. ID: 26148
Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts
  Herlingen's Five scrolls, Vienna, 1733

© Center for Jewish Art, Photographer: Unknown,
Summary and Remarks

The sheet with the Five scrolls belongs to a group of works carried out (among others) in Vienna by the scribe and illuminator Aaron Ben Binyamin Wolf (Ze'ev) Herlingen from Gewitsch (Moravia; c.1700 - c.1760), of which until now five similar compositions, including our sheet, are known.

One of them was written in 1748 in Vienna(ÖNB Cod. S.n. 1594; Cat. No. # - pp. #-#). Two other sheets are in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem and in the Royal Library at Stockholm, dating from the same year of 1748 (see K. Schubert, 1991, p. 35 and fig. 6). The last one is from the year 1755 (also signed 1752), in the Richard D. Levy Collection inNew York, formerly in the Sassoon Collection.

From these sheets, we can deduce that they were probably popular. We can also assume that these kinds of sheets were done for highly educated wealthy people and Court Jews, who lived in Vienna in those days (see Fishof, Buchmalerei).

Herlingen is known as a fruitful scribe and illuminator who also produced various manuscripts such as Esther scrolls, Psalms, various small prayer books and mainly Passover Haggadot. Today, close to fifty works are attributes to him. The earliest known manuscript by him is Seder Birkat ha-Mazon, copied in Vienna in 1719/20 (Private Collection; See: Sabar, Seder Birkat haMazon, p. 468).  


In 1736 in the census of the Jews in Pressburg, Herlingen is mentioned, as the officer of the Royal Library in Vienna: Aaron Moravius Gebitsensis. Officialis in Bibliotheca Caesarea Viennensi ("Aaron of Gewitsch, Moravia. An officer in the Imperial Library in Vienna. [Accompanied] by one woman, one assistant, and one maid" (Sabar, Ibid, p. 468). There, in Pressburg, he also worked and had written several Haggadot and prayer books between 1726 and 1731. In Cod. S.n. 1594 Aaron Wolf calls himself IMPERIAL AND ROYAL LIBRARY SCRIBE IN VIENNA.

In 1745 he is mentioned to have done the miniature depiction of Maria Theresa composed of 30,000 letters of the book of Solomon’s Wisdom, for which he obtained 100 Species Dukaten.[1] (see Flesch, Jahrbuch, p. 287). Also the fact that he wrote the sheet in four languages (Hebrew, Latin, German and French) proves that he was a prolific artist and a scholar Jew.

In 1762 the scribe was no longer alive since in a document from 1762 to Empress Maria Theresa it is suggested to allow his widow Veronica to open a kosher inn in Vienna for foreign Jews (U. Schubert, Buchkunst, p. 88).

The small size depictions in watercolored sepia drawing in technique imitating copper engravings of these five scrolls sheets are typical to the works of Aaron Wolf Herlingen. The origin of his models might have been, as usual in his work, the copper engravings and illustrated biblical cycles of the Amsterdam Haggadah of 1695 and 1712, but especially the bible illustrations by Matthaeus Merian the Elder (Swiss engraver, 1593-1650) in his Icones Biblicae (Basel, 1625-1630). For example, the depiction of the scene of Solomon's Judgment in our sheet is mostly close to the same topic in Merian's pictures of the Bible. The composition of the scene, with the enthroned Solomon at the center, the two women in similar postures in front of him, the soldier holding the live child upside down on the left and the spectators on the right, are all taken one by one from Merian's picture. Also, the details such as the hanging curtain behind Solomon's throne or the highlighted left knee of Solomon are strikingly similar.

It is interesting to note that Herlingen in both sheets (S.n. 1593 & 1594) devoted two of the five cartouches to illustrations based on Esther scroll illustrated cycles. Each cartouche includes a few scenes skillfully combined into one composition. For example, the cartouche of Haman leading Mordecai (6:11) includes in the background the hanging of Haman (7:10) and the hanging of his ten sons (9:6-11). Haman leading Mordecai also appears in the S.n. 1594, but this scene moved to the background and in the foreground is the depiction of Ahasuarus listening to the Book of Records. This rich repertoire of Esther story in Herlingen illustrations could come from his works on illuminated Esther scrolls, such as the one in the Israel Museum 182/172 (see Stieglitz Collection, Lot. 185, pp. 260-263), the illustrated miniature megillah in the British Library (mentioned in Stern, et.al., Chosen, p. 74, with no shelfmark) and another miniature Esther scroll housed today in Rosenbach Museum in Philadelphia (Stern, et.al., Chosen, p. 74). None of these scrolls are dated. The scenes of Haman leading Mordecai and the gallows of Haman's ten sons are almost identical in our sheet and in the Israel Museum Esther Scroll and the one in Philadelphia. The ten sons hanged on the gallows on a square bricked structure is also repeated in all these works of Herlingen.

The style of Aaron Wolf differs clearly from his illustrations of e.g. the Seder Haggadah from 1728 (the former Sassoon's collection, auctioned off in 1975 at Sotheby's Zurich as Lot. 12). The different composition and figures might be explained by other models that Herlingen used as well as by the miniature size of the cartouches or the use of the sepia technique rather than colour. However, the differences in style can well be explained by Herlingen's artistic development and by the other hand of his assistance as is evident for instance in Seder Tikkunei Shabbat, written in Pressburg in 1727, presumably by Aaron Wolf Herlingen's pupil and now held in the Austrian National Library, Cod. hebr. 130 (Cat. No. #, pp. # pp. #)

Aaron Wolf Herlingen, together with Meshulam Simmel from Polna (see Cat. Nos. #, fols. #-#) is the main representative of the Jewish miniature painting in Vienna from the Bohemian-Moravian origin. Both artists worked in Vienna, but during the 30s also partly in their home country for local patrons. They belong to the large group of book illustrators from Bohemia and Moravia that was active mainly since the beginning of the 18thcentury, which founded the school of Jewish book illumination especially in the Habsburg Empire but also in Hamburg and in the rest of Germany. To this group belongs also the Circumcision Book from Kittsse, 1758 (Austrian National Library, Cod. Hebr. 244; Cat. No. #,  pp. #-#).

[1] Species Dukaten (ducats) what is the English term for this coin?


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Herlingen's Five scrolls of 1733 | Unknown
Object Detail
Monument Setting
Synagogue active dates
Reconstruction dates
Historical Origin
Community type
Unknown |
Unknown| The Viennese school of Jewish book illumination of
Period Detail
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Textual Content
Unknown |
Languages of inscription
Shape / Form
Material / Technique
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Tesserae Arrangement
Construction material
Full page: ca. 300 X220 mm

Text space: ca. 242 X117 mm

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Documented by CJA
Surveyed by CJA
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Present Usage Details
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Historical significance: Event/Period
Historical significance: Collective Memory/Folklore
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Architectural Significance: Style
Architectural Significance: Artistic Decoration
Urban significance
Significance Rating
Five scrolls in four languages: Song of Songs in Latin, on the right Ecclesiastes in Hebrew, in the middle Ruth in German, on the left Esther in Hebrew, below in the middle Lamentations in French, at the bottom

: One sheet of parchment                                                                                           



Full page:    ca. 300 X220 mm

Text space: ca. 242 X117 mm    




Main text: in square, semi-cursive and cursive tiny script (micrography) in four languages, Hebrew, French, German and Latin, in light brown ink.

Headings: in decorated display script.

 Number of columns

Various numbers of columns

 Number of lines

Various numbers of lines



Ruling on lines and lines


(e.g. )


Not relevant


Not relevant

 Hebrew numeration

Not relevant

 Blank leaves

The verso side of the leaf is blank?


Number of Lines
Hebrew Numeration
Blank Leaves
Façade (main)
Location of Torah Ark
Location of Apse
Location of Niche
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Arrangement of Seats
Location of Women's Section
Direction Prayer
Direction Toward Jerusalem
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Coin Year
In the upper right side of the sheet, Herlingen signed the sheet in Latin and Hebrew in spared ground technique within the body of the capital letters of the heading for Song of Songs (CA[N]TICU[M] CA[N]TICORU[M]) AHRON WOLF HERLIN GEN DATO IN WIENN ANNO 1733 / Translation: "Aaron Wolf Herlingen "given" in Vienna, the year 1733" אהרן ב'ה בנימין זאב זצל מקק גיביטש שנת תצד Translation: "Aharon Ben Binyamin Ze'ev from the holy congregation Gewitsch, the year 1733".
Scribal Notes
Trade Mark
Decoration Program

The text of the Five scrolls are written in shaped-text in micrography forming a symmetrical composition of a stylized tree with branches spreading all over the sheet (whole page). The text is in brown ink and decoration in sepia of the same tonality. The decorated Latin title of the sheet - Sacra ex scriptura quinque libros totaliter leges descriptors  ("Holy Scriptures of Five books full Law? Descriptions") is written in burnished gold display letters on a blue ground. Each scroll opens with a Latin title written in display script filled with geometrical and floral motifs in spared ground technique. Thin golden line frames the sheet and each of the five main sections of the text. The decoration in the text includes:


  1. Five text illustrations each within a bell-shaped cartouche framed by thin golden line, are integrated into the micrography text, three on top and two at the bottom of the sheet, as follows: King Solomon handing down a piece of paper (top right); Solomon's Judgment (top center); Ruth and Boaz (top left); Haman leading Mordecai and Haman and his ten sons hanged (bottom right); Esther in front of Ahasuerus and Bigthan and Teresh hanged (bottom left).
  2. Two historiated initial letters for the books of Ruth (deer hunt) and Song of Songs (landscape ofVienna).


Suggested Reconsdivuction
The sheet was taken over in 1911 from older holdings of the Hofbibliothek into the New Series (S.n.)
Main Surveys & Excavations
Benjamin, Stieglitz Collection C. Benjamin, The Stieglitz Collection: Masterpieces of Jewish Art, The Israel Museum Jerusalem, The Israel Museum Jerusalem 1987, lot. 185, pp. 260-263, Fishof, Buchmalerei I. Fishof, Jüdische Buchmalerei in Hamburg und Altona. Zur Geschichte hebräischer Handschriften im 18. Jahrhundert (Hamburger Beiträge zur Geschichte der deutschen Juden XXI), Hamburg 1999. Flesch, Jahrbuch H. Flesch, Aus jüdischen Handschriften in Mähren, Jahrbuch der Gesellschaft für Geschichte der Juden in der Cechoslovakischen Republik, II, Prague 1930, pp. 285-292, esp. p. 287. Sabar, Seder Birkat ha-Mazon S. Sabar, "Seder Birkat ha-Mazon, Vienna 1719-20 – The Erliest Illustrated Manuscript of Aaron Wolff Herlingen of Gewitsch", in: Zekhor Davar le-'avadekha. Essays and Studies in Memory of Dov Rappel, Jerusalem 2007, pp. 455-472, pls. 8-18.(in Hebrew). K. Schubert, 1991 , K. Schubert, Die österreichischen Hofjuden und ihre Zeit (Studia Judaica Austriaca 12), Eisenstadt 1991, p. 35 and fig. 6. U. Schubert, Buchkunst U. Schubert, Jüdische Buchkunst, Vol. 2 (1992), pp. 87-90 and 186-187. Stern, et.al., Chosen D. Stern with E. M. Cohen and E.G.L. Schrijver, Chosen: Philadelphia’s great Hebraica, Catalogue published for the exhibition Chosen: Philadelphia’s great Hebraica. Organized by the Rosenbach Museum & Library and held March 29-August 26, 2007. Philadelphia 2007. On Aaron ben Benjamin Wolf Herlingen from Gewitsch, further oeuvres and his family: Kraft A. & Deutsch S., Die handscriftlischen hebräischen Werke der k. k. Hofbibliothek zu Wien, Wien 1847, No. 18, p. 23. Das Österreichische Jüdische Museum (Eisenstadt, 1988), p. 21, Cat. No. A 56. V.B. Mann, R.I. Cohen, From Court Jews to the Rothschilds. Art, Patronage, and Power 1600-1800, Minchen, New York 1996, 112f. and 172 (Cat. No. 93). O. Mazal, F. Z. Unterkircher, Katalog der abendländischen Handschriften der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek, series nova, part I, Vienna 1965, pp. 211-212. Moravia. Ein Blatt zur Unterhaltung, zur Kunde des Vaterlandes, des gesellschaftlichen und industriellen Fortschrittes, Vol.? 3, Nos. 57, 228. E. M. Namenyi, "The Illumination of Hebrew Manuscripts after the invention of printing", in: C. Roth (ed.), Jewish Art, London 1971, pp. 158-159. N.Z. Roth, "Ha-Zayyar ha-Amami Aharon Schreiber Herlingen", in: Yeda Am 5 (1958), pp. 73-79 (in Hebrew). S. Sabar, "Herlingen, Aaron Wolff (Schreiber) of Gewitsch (c.1700 - c.1760)" Encyclopaedia Judaic, 2nd Edition, vol. 9, p. 23. M. Schmelzer, "Decorated Hebrew Manuscripts of the Eighteenth Century in the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America", in: R. Dan (ed.), Occident and Orient (1998), pp. 331-51. Sotheby Parke Bernet, Zurich. A Further Thirty-Three Highly Important Hebrew and Samaritan Manuscripts from the Collection Formed by the late David Solomon Sassoon, Tuesday 21st November 1978, Lot. 15 with figs. On the Bohemian-Moravian painting school: I. Shachar, "‘The School of Moravia - a Popular Trend in Jewish Art of the 18th Century", Third World Congress of Jewish Studies (Jerusalem 25th July - 1st August 1961, Report, Jerusalem 1965, 358f.) (in Hebrew).
Karl-Georg Pfändtner Michal Sternthal |
Author of description
Karl-Georg Pfändtner Michal Sternthal Yaffa Levy | 2009
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Michal Sternthal |
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