The scroll is not signed but its ornamentation executed solely in sepia ink resembles the style of the megillot Esther made by the scribe-artist Aryeh Leib son of Daniel of Goray (Pol. Goraj), Poland. The upper margins are lavishly decorated with rectangles with shorter concave sides containing narrative scenes reflecting the Purim story; they are also captioned in semi-cursive Hebrew script. They are separated by repeating decorations composed of a lion and leafy tendrils with flowers and fruits; they are placed exactly above full-figure representations of the heroes separating the rectangular text panels. The full-length figures of the Esther story protagonists standing in the niches that are also identified by their names inscribed in the same type of Hebrew script as above. The spaces below them are adorned with medallions containing the busts of the minor characters of the Esther story identified by their names written also in a semi-cursive Hebrew script. They are flanked by floral motif and birds facing back. The background behind the decorative details along all membranes is filled with a repeating composition of leafy tendrils and fruits. Additionally, the hand-drawn imitation of the cross-hatching fills the background in the upper margins and behind the lions in the lower margins. The busts, figures between the text panels, and the narrative scenes are shown against a dark background.
The scroll is mounted on a wooden turned roller.
Every word המלך at the head of the column is decorated.
It seems that both - the ornamentation and text - were executed in the same ink.
The scroll was exhibited on "The Stieglitz Collection: Masterpieces of Jewish Art, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 30th November 1987 - 21st April 1987".
E | Esther, Book of (following the order of the story) | Esther story protagonists
L | Lion
B | Bird
O | Ornamentation: | Foliate and floral ornaments
F | Fruits
O | Ornamentation: | Foliate and floral ornaments | Flower
H | Human Figure | Bust (Human figure)
P | Portrait | Portrait medallion
O | Ornamentation: | Main text framed
Dimensions of the selected details in the scroll:
- upper margins: 38 mm;
- lower margins: 23 mm;
- text panel (inside): 140x115 mm;
- frames in the lower margins: 35x85 mm;
- heroes of the Purim story: ca. 90 mm (height);
- depiction of the gallows in col. 10: 45x100 mm;
- spaces between the lines: 2 mm.
The roller: 375 mm (height).
In general, the scroll is in good condition but there are some damages to it.
On the blank side of the first sheet, there is a quite large pink stain and a parchment "patch" glued on the membrane. There is a hole in the membrane.
The text is well preserved.
On the second sheet, the illustrations are slightly faded and their captions are barely visible.
The Book of Esther in Hebrew
The scroll is formed of 3 sheets, containing in total 12 columns of the text of 30 lines each. Col. 10 includes 11 lines divided into two half-columns.
Every membrane includes 4 columns of text.
The text is written in Hebrew square script in brown ink on the flesh side of the parchment membranes of medium thickness and stiffness. The side of the text is brighter and matte, while the blank side is more yellow and smooth.
The letters ח (Es. 1:6) and ת (Es. 9:29) are enlarged. Other enlarged and diminished letters are included in col. 10.
The text includes numerous elongated and shortened letters.
All letters ח in the scroll are written as composed of two parts.
Only very few corrections can be found in the text.
The membranes in the scroll are stitched together.
The ruling is invisible.
Some small holes can be seen on the bent edges of membranes.
The scroll from the Stieglitz Collection that was donated to the Museum with the contribution of Erica and Ludwig Jesselson, New York, to American Friends of the Israel Museum.
Chaya Benjamin, The Stieglitz Collection: Masterpieces of Jewish Art, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem 1987.
The Jewish World 365 Days, from the Collections of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem - New York 2004.
The link to the Museum's website: https://www.imj.org.il/en/collections/397972 (accessed on 03.06.2021).
Bibliography on other 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.
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.
Mendel Metzger, The Earliest Engraved Italian Megilloth, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 1966, 48/2, esp. 409, 422-425.
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).