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Obj. ID: 49770
Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts
  Micrography, Germany, 1765

© Gross Family Collection, Photographer: Unknown, -

The following description was prepared by William Gross:

Micrography, the scribal practice of employing minuscule script to delineate shapes or figural designs, is an art form that has been used by Jews for over a millennium. In fact an original art form created by Jewish scribes, this intricate decorative technique was first practiced in the tenth century in Egypt and the Land of Israel. It developed within the Islamic cultural milieu in which the written word was frequently transformed into elaborate decorative patterns.

Much of the earliest micrography we have is found in biblical codices. These Bibles in book form were not subject to the stringent rabbinical rules that applied to the writing and form of a Torah scroll, whether the arrangement of text of the form of the letters. They also were unaffected by any prohibition against ornamentation, and thus offered the scribe considerable latitude in arranging and decorating their text.

By the early thirteenth century, micrography appeared in Europe in the Sephardic manuscripts of Spain and Portugal as well as in Ashkenazic works produced in Northern Europe. While manuscript production on the whole declined in the sixteenth century, micrography continued to be used to on Ketubot (marriage contracts) and wall hangings. From the seventeenth century onward, scribes who practiced the art of micrography favored the texts of the five Megillot, Psalms and Proverbs as the basis of their art.

In 1798, the invention of lithography extended the micrographic arts beyond the exclusive realm of one-of-a-kind manuscripts. Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the mass production of micrographic prints allowed this ancient art form to reach a much broader Jewish audience. These prints encompassed a wide variety of themes; biblical portraits and vignettes as well as panoramas of the holy sites of Israel were especially popular. Famous rabbinic, political and literary personalities such as Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Lyady, Theodor Herzl and Hayyim Nahman Bialik, were also favored subjects, whose micrographic portraits were rendered from the texts of their own books and poems.

A very early example of micrography most unusually written in beautifully calligraphic German (rather than Hebrew) script. The text is Psalm  ***  and encloses at the top a delicate portrait of King David.

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Name/Title
| Unknown
Object Detail
Monument Setting
Unknown
Date
1765
Active dates
Reconstruction dates
Artist/ Maker
Unknown
Origin
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Congregation
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Unknown|
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Languages of inscription
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Material / Technique
Paper, Ink, Paint, Written, Painted
Material Stucture
Material Decoration
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Material Cloth
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Measurements
Height: 14.7 cm, Width: 21.1 cm
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Surveyed by CJA
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Historical significance: Collective Memory/Folklore
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Architectural Significance: Artistic Decoration
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0
Ornamentation
Custom
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Author of description
William Gross |
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The following information on this monument will be completed:
Unknown |