| C 19184.108.40.206
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.
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.
At least a dozen scrolls featuring the same pattern are extant; in the Index see IDs: 207, 34641, 35201, 36153.
Scrolls decorated with this pattern all consist of either four or five sheets.
Some illustrations bear Arabic numerals.
Around some frames containing the illustrations, blots of black ink are visible.
The Griselini scrolls are a family of Italian Esther scrolls from the 1740s, in which the decorative and illustrative border is printed and the Hebrew text of the Book of Esther is handwritten by a scribe. The lower-left corner of each sheet features the printed signature of Francesco Griselini (1717‒1787), the Italian engraver who designed the scheme. The decoration features a row of arcades under which individual columns of the Hebrew text of the Book of Esther are written. 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. In the Index, megillot Esther confusingly similar to Griselini scrolls, but not printed by Griselini himself, are called "Pseudo-Griselini 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 "Pseudo-Griselini" and "Gaster II" scrolls and in the Index).
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 Megillot Esther in the Moses Gaster Hebrew Manuscript Collection at the John Rylands Library: a comparative analysis with reference to Eighteenth-century Italian scrolls, "Journal of Semitic Studies. Supplementary Series", in print.
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 megillot 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).