Object Alone

Obj. ID: 38124
Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts
  JMNY Griselini Esther Scroll, Venice, 1740s

© Dagmara Budzioch, Photographer: Budzioch, Dagmara, 11.2015

This lavishly decorated scroll features a printed border designed by Francesco Griselini which surrounds the handwritten Hebrew text of the Book of Esther. The main part of the pattern consists of a series of arcades, under which the text is inscribed. The text panels are interspersed by columns whose shafts are decorated with different patterns and bases contain floral designs.

The upper margins are filled with a balustrade on which are placed cartouches flanked by flowers and pairs of turkeys, roosters, parrots, or hoopoes with their heads turned away; on each membrane, all four pairs of birds are printed in the same sequence. Additionally, above the cartouches between turkeys and parrots, double-headed eagles are placed, whereas turkeys or peacocks are above cartouches between roosters and hoopoes. The sections with birds are interspersed by vases with flowers or small citrus trees.

The lower margins are decorated with narrative scenes from the Book of Esther, set within rectangular Italian architectural frames separated by the columns' bases.

Summary and Remarks

The Griselini scrolls consist either of four or five sheets with four text panels each.

The decorative scheme resembles the ornamentation of Gaster II scrolls.

In the Index, megillot Esther confusingly similar to Griselini scrolls, but not printed by Griselini himself, are called "Griselini-Related scrolls". The decoration of Griselini scrolls also resembles that of the Gaster II scrolls, but without decoration at the beginning and the end (see descriptions of "Griselini-Related" and "Gaster II" scrolls and in the Index).

On the second membrane, the frames enclosing illustrations are diagonally placed to the lower margin.


18 image(s)

sub-set tree:

JMNY Griselini Esther Scroll | Unknown
Object Detail
Monument Setting
Synagogue active dates
Reconstruction dates
Artist/ Maker
Griselini, Francesco (artist, engraver)
{"1592":"(1717, Venice\u20131787, Milan) began theological studies in Venice, but abandoned them in favor of history and science. He was active in many fields, including geography, cartography, agriculture, natural history, and economics; but he was also a writer, comic poet, traveler, journalist, botanist, and member of a Masonic lodge. One of his most important works is \"Dizionario delle arte e de\u2019 Mestieri\", an encyclopedia on agriculture, mining, handicrafts, trades, and technology, which was issued in 17 volumes between 1768 and 1778. In 1764, he founded the agricultural periodical \"Il Giornale d\u2019Italia\". His engravings adorn several editions of books printed in Venice between 1739 and 1755 (for his engravings see the Index). He also designed decorations for the sukkah."}
Historical Origin
Community type
Unknown |
Unknown |
Griselini scrolls|
{"212":"The family of Italian Esther scrolls from the 1740s produced in the mixed technique in which decorative border is printed and the Hebrew text of the Book of Esther is penned by a scribe. The lower-left corner of each sheet features a printed signature of Francesco Griselini (1717\u20121787), the Italian engraver who designed the scheme. The decoration is based on the row of arcades under which individual columns of the Hebrew text of the Book of Esther are inscribed. On the arcades is placed a balustrade with oval medallions flanked by pairs of birds with their heads turned away; these sections are interspersed by flower-filled vases. Lower margins are filled with scenes illustrating the narrative of the Book of Esther, framed in rectangles that are separated by the columns’ bases. The scrolls in this family consist either of four or five sheets with four text panels each. The decorative scheme resembles the ornamentation of Gaster II scrolls."}
Period Detail
Documentation / Research project
Textual Content
Unknown |
Languages of inscription
Shape / Form
Material / Technique
Ink on parchment (printed border, handwritten text)
Material Stucture
Material Decoration
Material Bonding
Material Inscription
Material Additions
Material Cloth
Material Lining
Tesserae Arrangement
Construction material
The scroll: 254x2273 mm.
Length of the sheets in the scroll: 1) 450 mm, 2) 450 mm, 3) 455 mm, 4) 455 mm, 5) ca. 485 mm.
Dimensions of the selected details in the scroll:
- an average letter: ca. 2 mm (height);
- spaces between the lines of the text: 2-3 mm.
Panel Measurements

In general, the manuscript is preserved in good condition, although its beginning is damaged and dark.

The ink flaked off in some places and not everywhere the text is well preserved.

Some damages of the parchments can be seen.

Documented by CJA
Surveyed by CJA
Present Usage
Present Usage Details
Condition of Building Fabric
Architectural Significance type
Historical significance: Event/Period
Historical significance: Collective Memory/Folklore
Historical significance: Person
Architectural Significance: Style
Architectural Significance: Artistic Decoration
Urban significance
Significance Rating

The Book of Esther in Hebrew followed by the benedictions recited before and after the Megillah reading, fragments of the liturgical poem Shoshanat Yakov and the poem Korei Megillah.


The scroll is formed of 5 sheets containing a total of 17 columns of text and three panels at the end of the scroll are filled with additional texts. Each column includes 21 or 22 lines of text, except for col. 14 which has 11 lines divided into two half-columns and col. 17 with 15 lines.

The first four sheets comprise 4 columns of text and on the fifth sheet, a single column is written. It is followed by three columns with the benedictions and the liturgical poems for Purim.

The text is written in Hebrew square Italian script with tagin in black ink (tagin are marked in light brown ink) on the flesh side of parchment membranes that are very thick and stiff. The side of the text and decorations is brighter and more matte, while the blank side is yellower and more glossy.

The scroll opens with an enlarged and bolded initial word which is written separately in the first line.

The letters ח (Es. 1:6) and ת (Es. 9:29) are enlarged and bolded. Additionally, the letter ח is highlighted by its form. Other enlarged and diminished letters are included in col. 14.

There are some corrections added above the lines of text.

The ruling is made with a hard point. In general, the lines are barely visible, but on the last membrane, they are well visible.

The pricking can be seen after the last text panel.

The sheets in the scroll are stitched together.

The benedictions start with enlarged and bolded words ברוך. The Tetragrammaton is replaced by the ligature of א and ל. In the words אלהינו, the letter ה lack their leg.

Number of Lines
Hebrew Numeration
Blank Leaves
Façade (main)
Location of Torah Ark
Location of Apse
Location of Niche
Location of Reader's Desk
Location of Platform
Temp: Architecture Axis
Arrangement of Seats
Location of Women's Section
Direction Prayer
Direction Toward Jerusalem
Coin Series
Coin Ruler
Coin Year
Every membrane, in the lower-left corner, bears the engraver's signature "Griselini f.". The letter "f" is an abbreviation for the Latin word "fecit" which means "made by".


Scribal Notes
Trade Mark
Decoration Program
Suggested Reconsdivuction

The scroll belongs to the H. Ephraim and Mordecai Benguiat Family Collection.

Main Surveys & Excavations

A short characteristic of the scroll and its images are available on https://thejewishmuseum.org/collection/21909-esther-scroll (accessed on 28.04.2021).

Bibliography on scrolls sharing the same pattern:

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, pp. 242–245 (additionally pp. 126-127 for the Bible of 1739 illustrated with Griselini's engravings).

Schöne Seiten. Jüdische Schriftkultur aus der Braginsky Collection, eds. Emile Schrijver, Falk Wiesemann, Evelyn M. Cohen, Sharon Liberman Mintz, Menachem Schmeltzer, Zurich 2011, pp. 264‒265 (additionally pp. 246-247 for the Bible of 1739 illustrated with Griselini's engravings).

Mendel Metzger, The Earliest Engraved Italian Megilloth, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 1966, 48/2, esp. 406-432.

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, 1:128–136.

Biography of Griselini in Italian and bibliography available on http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/francesco-griselini_(Dizionario-Biografico)/ (accessed on 11.04.2020).

Dagmara Budzioch | 2021
Author of description
Dagmara Budzioch | 2021
Architectural Drawings
Computer Reconstruction
Section Head
Language Editor
Negative/Photo. No.
The following information on this monument will be completed:
Unknown |