Under Construction!
Object Alone

Obj. ID: 37868  JML Griselini Esther Scroll, Venice, 1740s

© Jewish Museum in London (JML), Photographer: N/A, -.

4 image(s)

JML Griselini Esther Scroll | Unknown
Object Detail
Synagogue active dates
Reconstruction dates
Artist/ Maker
Griselini, Francesco (artist, engraver)
(1717, Venice–1787, 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’ 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’Italia". 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
Unknown |
Unknown |
Griselini scrolls|

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 (1717‒1787), 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
Ink on parchment (printed decorations, handwritten text)
Material Stucture
Material Decoration
Material Bonding
Material Inscription
Material Additions
Material Cloth
Material Lining
Tesserae Arrangement
Construction material
The scroll: 1910 mm (length).
The length of the sheets in the scroll: 1) 515 mm, 2) 455 mm, 3) 460 mm, 4) 480 mm.
Dimensions of the selected details in the scroll:
- the print: 241x460 mm;
- frames with illustration(s): 27x70 mm;
- an average letter: 2 mm.
Panel Measurements

In general, the manuscript is well preserved, although its very beginning is slightly damaged and traces of moisture are visible on it. Similarly, the final section of the scroll is slightly damaged.

Some parts of the pattern on the last sheet are not very clear.

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

This lavishly decorated scroll features a printed border designed by Francesco Griselini that is around the handwritten Hebrew text of the Book of Esther. The text panels are separated by columns whose shafts are decorated with varying patterns and whose bases contain floral designs.

The initial part of the scroll (ca. 55 mm wide) is blank. The upper margins feature cartouches flanked by flowers, pairs of turkeys, roosters, parrots, or hoopoes with their heads turned away from each other on top of a balustrade; all four pairs of birds are printed in the same sequence continuously. On top of the cartouches between turkeys and parrots, there are crowned double-headed eagles, whereas turkeys or peacocks are placed above cartouches between roosters and hoopoes. Vases, flowers, and small citrus trees are interspersed regularly throughout the birds.

The lower margins are decorated with figurative scenes illustrating the narrative of the Book of Esther. They feature Italian architecture and are enclosed in rectangular frames separated by the columns' floral bases.


The Book of Esther in Hebrew


The scroll is composed of 4 sheets containing 16 columns of the text with 30 lines except for col. 14 which has 11 lines divided into two half-columns.

Each of the four sheets contains four text panels.

The text is inscribed in Hebrew square Italian script with tagin, in black ink, on the flesh side of the parchment membranes that are of medium thickness and stiffness. In addition, the side with the text and decorations is brighter than the other side that is more yellow.

The letter ח (Es. 1:6) is slightly larger than an average letter in the scroll and bolded. The letter ת (Es. 9:29) is enlarged and bolded too. Other enlarged and diminished letters are included in col. 14.

The text fully fills the panels; the text column is 8 mm wide.

Col. 13 includes numerous elongated letters.

The ruling is invisible, but on the blank side of the sheets, on the opening and final sections of the scroll, the pricking can be seen.

The membranes are stitched together.

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
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
Decoration Program
Summary and Remarks

Some illustrations bear Arabic numerals.

Around some frames containing the illustrations, blots of black ink are visible.

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).


The scroll bears former numbers: 669 and 220.

Main Surveys & Excavations

Bibliography concerning the manuscript from the JML collection is unknown but other scrolls decorated with the same border are described in:

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

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).

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).

Short Name
Full Name
Dagmara Budzioch | 2021
Dagmara Budzioch | 2021
Architectural Drawings
Computer Reconsdivuction
Section Head
Language Editor