In this scroll, rectangular text panels with the Book of Esther in Hebrew are surrounded by hand-drawn pen and ink decorations. This decoration is composed of dense foliate and floral ornamentation in which putti, fruit-filled vases, and portrait medallions with busts of characters from the Esther story are woven. The lower margins are adorned with cartouches containing the narrative scenes from the Book of Esther. These elongated oval frames are decorated with a shell motif on either side. Additionally, every second cartouche is flanked by a pair of lions. The background of the scroll is filled with a hand-drawn imitation of cross-hatching. Every membrane - except for the fifth membrane - includes three text panels and three cartouches; only the last membrane contains two panels. This particular manuscript is not signed, but judging from the style, it can be attributed to the artist and scribe, Aryeh Leib ben Daniel of Goray (Pol. Goraj), Poland, active in the mid-18th century.
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Esther story protagonists
P | Portrait | Portrait medallion
O | Ornamentation: | Foliate and floral ornaments
V | Vase | Vase with fruits
P | Putto (Putti in Plural)
L | Lion
H | Human Figure | Bust (Human figure)
O | Ornamentation: | Cartouche
O | Ornamentation: | Main text framed
The manuscript (the text, decorations, and membranes) is very well preserved.
The Book of Esther in Hebrew
The scroll is formed of 6 sheets (the last sheet is blank and was used for stitching of the manuscript to the roller) containing 14 columns of the text of 28 or 29 lines, except for col. 12 which includes 11 lines divided into two half-columns.
Membranes nos. 1-4 include 4 columns of text and the fifth one includes 2 columns.
The text is written in Hebrew square Ashkenazi script with tagim, in brown ink on the flesh side of the parchment membranes.
The letter ח (Es. 1:6) is enlarged, bolded, and darker than all letters around. The letter ת (Es. 9:29) is enlarged and bolded. Other enlarged and diminished letters are included in col. 12.
Col. 11, in the last line, includes an extremely long letter.
The double-line ruling is well visible along with the membranes.
The pricking is invisible.
The membranes in the scroll are stitched together.
It seems the scroll was originally mounted on a roller and for this purpose the sixth, blank and short sheet was added.
Bibliography on scrolls made by Aryeh Leib ben Daniel of Goray or attributed to him:
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, 1:206-215.
Victor Klagsbald, Catalogue raisonné de la collection juive du Musée de Cluny, Paris 1981, 64-66, object 73.
Mendel Metzger, The Earliest Engraved Italian Megilloth, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 1966, 48/2, esp. 409, 422-425.
Ernest Namenyi, "The Illumination of Hebrew Manuscripts after the Invention of Printing," in Cecil Roth (ed.), Jewish Art, an Illustrated History (London, 1961), col. 435.
Olga Sixtova, O svitku / Form of the Scroll [katalog k výstavě konané v Galerii Roberta Guttmanna Židovského muzea v Praze od 22. června do 26. července 2006], Prag 2006, 32-33.
A Journey through Jewish Worlds: Highlights from the Braginsky Collection of Hebrew Manuscripts and Printed Books, eds. Evelyn M. Cohen, Emile Schrijver, Sharon Liberman Mintz, Amsterdam 2009, 246-249.
Schöne Seiten. Jüdische Schriftkultur aus der Braginsky Collection, eds. Emile Schrijver, Falk Wiesemann, Evelyn M. Cohen, Sharon Liberman Mintz, Menahem Schmeltzer, Zurich 2011, 266-269.
A Fine Illustrated Esther Scroll, [ca. 1740], lot 105, Sotheby's New York Important Judaica, 20 December 2017 https://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/lot.105.html/2017/important-judaica-n09687 (accessed on 31.07.2020).
A Magnificent Esther Scroll Written and illustrated Aryeh Leib ben Daniel of Goray, Schwelm, 1737, lot 187, Sotheby's New York Important Judaica Including Property from the Estate of Shlomo Moussaieff, 15 December 2016 https://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2016/important-judaica-n09589/lot.187.html (accessed on 31.07.2020).