Obj. ID: 34124
Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts SBB Griselini-Related Esther Scroll, Venice (?), mid-18th century
The manuscript represents the Griselini-Related scrolls whose decoration imitates the scheme designed by Francesco Griselini (see "Griselini scrolls" in the Index). All Griselini-Related scrolls are formed of five sheets with four text panels on each membrane and are produced in the mixed technique of the decorative border that is printed and the hand-written text. Its general composition is the same as in the Griselini scrolls and only minor details such as dogs present in the narrative scenes and the checkered floor, differ them.
The scheme is based on the row of arcades under which individual columns of the Hebrew text of the Book of Esther are inscribed (it is copied in 19 columns and the last panel is left blank). The text panels are separated by columns whose shafts are decorated with varying patterns and whose bases contain floral designs. The upper margins feature cartouches flanked by flowers, pairs of turkeys, roosters, parrots, or hoopoes with their heads turned away from each other on top of a balustrade; all four pairs of birds are printed in the same sequence continuously. On top of the cartouches between turkeys and parrots, there are crowned double-headed eagles, whereas turkeys or peacocks are placed above cartouches between roosters and hoopoes. Vases, flowers, and small citrus trees are interspersed regularly throughout the birds.
The lower margins are decorated with figurative scenes illustrating the narrative of the Book of Esther. They feature Italian architecture and are enclosed in rectangular frames separated by the columns' floral bases.
The same pattern repeats along with the scroll and only the narrative scenes on the subsequent sheets are different.
The exemplar is colored by hand and is mounted on a wooden roller.
The illustrations show numerous common features with the scrolls representing Klagsbald and Gaster II types (see in the Index) but they are more detailed; especially more figures are included in them.
To the right edge of the first membrane, a string is stitched.
The plants in the vases represent possibly carnations and tulips, and orange and lemon trees.
It seems that the pattern was painted after the stitching of the membranes because the shades of the paints are identical on them all.
The columns between the text panels are decorated with different ornaments.
Some cartouches are painted with silver metallic paint inside.
The last - the twentieth - panel is empty.
The scroll was displayed at the "Synagoga" exhibition in 1960/1961 in Recklinghausen and in 1961 in Frankfurt am Main (respectively objects B 66 and 132 in the catalogues - see "Bibliography").
Length of the membranes in the scroll: 1) ca. 500 mm, 2) ca. 460 mm, 3) ca. 465 mm, 4) 460 mm, 5) ca. 460 mm + the part of the membrane in which the roller is wrapped.
Dimensions of the selected details in the scroll:
- the printed decoration: ca. 260x468 mm;
- a text panel: 120 x ca. 82 mm;
- a section with a pair of birds: ca. 35 x ca. 90 mm;
- a balustrade: 28-30 mm (height);
- a frame with narrative scenes: 26x75 mm;
- an average line of the text: ca. 75 mm long;
- an average letter: ca. 3 mm (height);
- spaces between the text lines: 3 mm;
- letters in col. 16: 5 mm (height);
- spaces between the lines of the text: 5 mm (height).
The manuscript is preserved in good condition, although there is a hole in a part of the first text column and first illustration.
The state of preservation of the text is differentiated but it is still legible; it is partly caused by the condition of parchment.
In some places (especially on the third membranes) the letters could be seen on the other - blank - side of the membranes.
The edges of the membranes are straight beyond a part of the first membrane that is jagged.
On col. 14, there is a "yellow" stain. The parchment shows some traces of its renovation.
The Book of Esther in Hebrew
The scroll is formed of 5 membranes containing 19 text columns with 23 lines except for col. 16 that is inscribed in 11 lines divided into two parts. Four membranes contain 4 text columns and on the fifth membrane 3 columns are inscribed.
The text is inscribed on the flesh side of parchment membranes in a small, square Italian script, in black ink with brown hues that differ on particular membranes. In some places, the second layer of ink could be placed on the letters.
The letter ח (Es 1:6) is of similar size as an average letter in the scroll but it is highlighted by its shape because this is the only place where letter ח is composed of two parts joined with a roof. Whereas col. 16 contains enlarged and diminished letters.
The flesh side of the membranes is bright, almost white, whereas another side is yellow.
On the right side of the first column, the prickings are visible.
The left margins in the text columns are straight.
The ruling was made but it is visible only in the places in which the text is absent.
The membranes in the scroll are stitched together.
On the blank (hair) side of the second membrane, there is a sticker with the inscription "Bibliotheca Regia Berolinensis Ms. Ham. 235". The scroll could formerly belong to the collection of the Tübingen University Library as a depot of the Presussische Staatsbibliothek.
The scroll is mentioned in:
Synagoga. Kultgeräte und Kunstwerke von der Zeit der Patriarchen bis zur Gegenwart, Städtische Kunsthalle Recklinghausen, 3. November 1960 – 15. Januar 1961, ed. Anneliese Schröder, Recklinghausen 1961, object B 66.
Synagoga. Jüdische Altertümer Handschriften und Kultgeräte. Historisches Museum Frankfurt am Main, 17. Mai – 16. Juli 1961, Frankfurt am Main 1961, object 132.
The scrolls decorated with this pattern are discussed in:
Mendel Metzger, The Earliest Engraved Italian Megilloth, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 1966, 48/2, 381–432, esp. 416-432 (here the scrolls are called "post-Griselini").
Dagmara Budzioch, The Decorated Esther Scrolls from the Museum of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw and the Tradition of Megillot Esther Decoration in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries – An Outline [Polish: Dekorowane zwoje Estery z Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego w Warszawie na tle tradycji dekorowania megilot Ester w XVII i XVIII wieku. Zarys problematyki], Warsaw 2019, 1:135-138.
Victor Klagsbald, Catalogue raisonné de la collection juive du Musée de Cluny, Paris 1981, p. 74-75, object 74.
A short description in French and several photographs are available on https://www.mahj.org/en/decouvrir-collections-betsalel/rouleau-d-esther-50121 (accessed on 24.05.2020).