Obj. ID: 35199
Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts GFC Statt Susonn Illustrated Esther Scroll, Germany, first half of the 18th century
The hand-painted decorations in the scroll are unique, not comparable to any other megillah. Even the patterns adorning two other currently known scrolls executed by the same artist and scribe are not as sophisticated as the ornamentation of this scroll. The manuscript opens with an extraordinary decoration - the city of Susa (Shushan) represented as a German city - that surrounds the only rectangular text column in it. All other sections of the Hebrew text of the Book of Esther are inscribed in text panels that are totally asymmetrical and in which the lines of text fit exactly with no margin. This suggests that the decoration was executed before the text was written. The scroll is lavishly illustrated with numerous costumed figures and buildings that chronicle the Purim story. They feature not only excellent workmanship but also the maker's sense of humor reflected in exaggerated theatrical gestures and misshapen proportions.
This megillah is one of three scrolls from Germany featuring similar decorative programs, most likely executed by the same anonymous artist. However, only this one includes figurative scenes of the Esther story. All three of them, in their opening panels, show cityscapes of Susa (Shushan), the capital of the ancient Persian Empire. All three also bear the caption "Statt Susonn" written in Latin letters - hence the designation for the scroll's artist. The other scroll is in the collection of The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York (S44), and the third one was sold at the New York Sotheby's auction in 2013 (see "Bibliography").
The manuscript is well preserved, although its opening and final parts are very dark and the decorations on it are damaged.
The final panel is not preserved entirely; to the final part of the membrane and underneath it, a short piece of parchment is glued.
There are some slight damages to the decorations in the scroll.
The Book of Esther in Hebrew
The scroll is formed of 3 sheets, containing in total 17 "columns" of text of 16, 18, 20-24, or 26 lines each. "Col." 15 includes 11 lines divided into two half-columns.
The lines of the text fit the shape of the panels, therefore they are of different lengths.
The number of the text columns per membrane: no. 1 - 4, no. 2 - 7, no. 3 - 6.
The text is written in Hebrew square Ashkenazi script with tagin in brown ink on the flesh side of the parchment membranes.
Additions to the text in the semi-cursive script are written.
The letters ח (Es. 1:6) and ת (Es. 9:29) are enlarged and bolded. Other enlarged and diminished letters are included in col. 15.
The ruling is made with a hard point; only horizontal lines are visible.
The pricking is invisible.
The membranes in the scroll are stitched together.
The caption "Statt Susonn" written in Latin letters above the cityscape at the top of the first column of the text appears.
The scroll was reproduced in a limited edition facsimile by Linda and Michael Falter, Facsimile Editions Limited, London:
https://www.facsimile-editions.com/en/me/ (accessed on 24.09.2020).
The lot description of one of the other scrolls by the same artist: