Obj. ID: 35514
Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts Historisches Museum Frankfurt Franck Esther Scroll, Prague (?), ca. 1700
This scroll is adorned with an engraved border designed by Philipp Jakob Franck in which the Hebrew text of the Book of Esther is hand-copied by a scribe.
It starts with a panel composed of a crown-topped cartouche, supported by two standing angels and three scenes from the Book of Esther placed one under the other. Elongated cartouches for the Hebrew inscriptions are added to the scenes. The illustrations are labeled, but their wording is not the same in all surviving versions of this type of megillah. Additionally, there is an inscription in the lower-left corner of the second illustration in the Latin alphabet (see "Signature"). The upper and lower margins of the entire scroll are decorated with the same pattern, a composition of dense acanthus leaves in which nude busts, landscapes framed in decorative cartouches, and birds (possibly phoenixes) are woven.
The text of the megillah is inscribed in rectangular panels separated by twisted columns. Just above each column are flower-filled vases and narrative scenes from the Purim story: 1) King Ahasuerus with his scepter (possibly alluding to Es. 1:1); 2) Queen Esther with her scepter; 3) Bigthan and Teresh hanging on the gallows (Es. 2:23); 4) Seven maidservants of Esther (Es. 2:9); 5) The king giving his ring to Haman (Es. 3:10); 6) Mordecai with an open book before Haman (it is unclear what part of the text this scene represents); 7) Mordecai on horseback (alluding to Es. 6:11); 8) The king giving his ring to Mordechai (Es. 8:2); 9) Haman pleading with Esther for mercy (Es. 7:7–8); 10) Esther in front of Haman's house (Es. 8:1 (?)); 11) Esther writing the Purim letter (Es. 9:29). These scenes are also labeled in Hebrew, though their sequence is not the same in all preserved examples of this type of scroll.
Four other narrative scenes from the Book of Esther are printed one under the other in the final section of the scroll. They are as follows: 1) Possibly the first Purim feast (Es. 9:17-23); 2) Esther’s second banquet (Es. 7:3); with the gallows built for Mordechai in the background (Es. 5:14); 3) Queen Esther before the king while he extends his scepter to her, and Mordechai kneeling in front of him while becoming the new royal vizier and receiving Ahasuerus's ring (Es. 8:2-4); 4) Mordecai writing the Purim letter (Es. 9:29). In the 2nd and 3rd scenes, elongated cartouches for inscriptions are incorporated.
Around 15 megillot featuring the same border are housed in private and institutional collections; see related objects. Yet another exemplar used to be a part of the Gross Family Collection (no. 081.012.044) but in 2003, it was stolen from the Beit Hatfutsot Museum in Tel Aviv (Hilfe erbeten: Judaica Diebstahl: http://www.judentum.net; accessed on 14.12.2018). There are also two scrolls embellished with the same border but with texts other than the Book of Esther.
M | C | Columns | Twisted columns
L | Landscape
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Esther story protagonists
A | Acanthus Leaf
W | Woman | Nude
V | Vase | Vase with flowers
A | Angel , (Sandalfon (angel)), (Metatron (angel))
B | Bird
P | Phoenix
H | Human Figure | Bust (Human figure)
O | Ornamentation: | Foliate and floral ornaments
The membranes are connected in a clumsy manner.
The Book of Esther in Hebrew
The scroll is formed of 4 sheets containing 16 columns of the text with 24 lines except for col. 14 with 15 lines (11 of them containing Haman's sons section are divided into two parts).
Every membrane contains 4 columns of text.
The text is inscribed in Hebrew square Ashkenazi script with tagin, in very dark brown ink that is almost black, on the flesh side of each parchment membrane.
The letter ח (Es. 1:6) is slightly bigger than an average letter in the scroll. Col. 14 does not include enlarged and diminished letters.
Erroneous text fragments are cut out and the correct passages are written on strips of parchment that are glued underneath the membranes.
The ruling - made with a stylus - is almost invisible.
The membranes in the scroll are stitched together.
The scrolls featuring the same border are described in:
Dagmara Budzioch, Verzierte Ester-Rollen – illustriert von dem Prager Kupferstecher Philipp Jakob Franck [in:] Zwischen Offenbarung und Kontemplation: Die Wolfenbütteler hebräischen Schriftrollen, mit Beiträgen von Dagmara Budzioch und Ad Stijnman (Wolfenbütteler Forschungen), Wiesbaden 2021, pp. 106-117.
A Journey through Jewish Worlds: Highlights from the Braginsky Collection of Hebrew Manuscripts and Printed Books, eds. Evelyn M. Cohen, Emile Schrijver, Sharon Mintz, Amsterdam 2009, 266–267.
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]”, Praha 2006, 36.
http://braginskycollection.com/scrolls/prague/ (accessed on 21.09.2020).
A Magnificent Illustrated Esther Scroll [Prague ca. 1700], lot 169: http://www.sothebys.com; accessed on 14.12.2018.
A Magnificent Illustrated Esther Scroll [Prague: ca. 1700], lot 24: http://www.sothebys.com; accessed on 14.12.2018.