ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPTS, HEBREW
This entry is arranged according to the following outline:
Hebrew Illumination in Hellenistic Times
Character of Hebrew Manuscript Illumination
Materials and Techniques
13TH-CENTURY SCHOOLS OF ROME AND CENTRAL ITALY
It is impossible to state with any degree of certainty when the tradition of the illuminated Hebrew manuscripts began. The oldest extant specimens are from the Muslim world of the tenth century, but it is possible that the practice commenced in an earlier period. It may well be, in fact, that the illumination of Hebrew manuscripts goes back even as far as the Hellenistic period, although no specimens have survived.
Archaeological discoveries have revealed that in the Roman period, synagogues in the Land of Israel were adorned with mosaic floors that incorporated not only decorative elements and animal figures, but also representations of biblical scenes and personalities. In the third-century synagogue at *Dura-Europos wall paintings depicted many scenes from the Bible. According to some, the Dura-Europos paintings were based on images that adorned manuscript texts of the Bible.
The earliest extant Christian illuminated manuscripts of the Bible, such as the so-called Vienna Genesis, are of Old Testament books, and are conjectured by some scholars to have been based on Jewish prototypes. It is significant too that the favorite topics for early Christian religious art, in churches and catacombs, and on sarcophagi and small objects, were based on Old rather than New Testament subjects (the sacrifice of Isaac, the story of Jonah, and so on) again perhaps suggesting Jewish prototypes, and it is noteworthy that precisely these subjects reemerge (rather than emerge) as favorite topics in the Jewish manuscript and religious art of the Middle Ages. Christian illuminated Bible manuscripts in the Middle Ages often elaborate the plain narrative with materials reflecting rabbinic legend; and it is not known whether this resulted from an antecedent Jewish art or from the common store of medieval religious folklore. An illustration in the seventh-century Latin Ashburnham Pentateuch (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2334, fol. 6) shows Adam and Eve dressed in animal skins, standing under a booth which, according to the Jewish Midrash, had been built for them by God. Jewish legends appear as early as the third century, on the walls of the Dura-Europos Synagogue.
Furthermore, there are certain motifs in the illuminated medieval Hebrew Bibles – a tradition going back to the 10thor 11th century – which seem to carry on the artistic tradition of antiquity, reflected both in the early Jewish monuments of the classical period on the one hand, and in Christian illuminated codices on the other. The outstanding example of this is the conventional representation of the sanctuary and its vessels, which are represented also in the seventh-century Latin Codex Amiatinus (Florence, Biblioteca Laurenziana, Ms. Amiat. 1). There are indications that the conventional figure of the Evangelist and the beginning of early Latin and Greek texts of the Gospels may also have a Jewish antecedent. Indeed, the Codex Amiatinus shows not an Evangelist but Ezra the scribe, apparently wearing the Jewish phylactery, a feature hardly imaginable in a Christian archetype. The Hellenistic Jewish biblical illustrations need not have been attached to a complete Hebrew Bible. It is probable that they illustrated a narrative paraphrase, including many legends, of some books of the Bible, like the Pentateuch, Joshua, Judges, and Kings. The paraphrase may have been in Greek, Aramaic, or Latin, and not necessarily in Hebrew, somewhat like *Josephus' Jewish Antiquities.
J. *Gutmann in 1966 opposed the hypothesis of the existence of Hebrew illuminated manuscripts in antiquity by stressing that none survived and by pointing out the fact that the *Church Fathers were conversant with midrashic literature and used Jewish legends in their writings. Christian artists, however, may have obtained their models from Jewish illuminated paraphrased Bibles, since lost. Jewish wanderings, coupled with the wholesale destruction of Hebrew books, may be responsible for the disappearance of the entire body of evidence. Another adverse element might have been the periodic triumph among the Jews of anti-iconic principles.
Some literary evidence of Torah scrolls adorned with gold letters may indicate their existence in antiquity. The Letter of *Aristeas, describing the translation of the Bible by the 72 sages (the Septuagint) states that among the gifts brought to King Ptolemy was a scroll of the Law written entirely in
While there is no conclusive evidence for the existence of Hebrew illuminated manuscripts during the Hellenistic period, there is definite indication of their existence in the Near East as early as the tenth century, although the exact dates of their origin are not known. In Europe, the earliest surviving Hebrew illuminated manuscripts stem from 13th-century Germany. By the end of the 15th century, the invention of printing caused the decline of all manuscript production and decoration, including Hebrew, although thereafter a few schools of Hebrew illumination continued to appear, the most important of them in Central Europe in the 18th century.
Throughout its history, the style of Hebrew illuminated manuscripts was dependent on contemporary schools of illumination in each region in which they were produced. Thus, the Oriental school is similar to the Islamic or Persian schools in style as well as motifs, while each of the European regional schools has stylistic and decorative elements directly influenced by the illumination of Latin, Greek, or vernacular manuscripts of the period. At times the art found in decorated Hebrew manuscripts, especially when executed by a scribe rather than a skilled artist, was carried out in a manner that was no longer employed by the dominant culture. Even so, this cannot be considered a Jewish style. The art found in decorated Hebrew manuscripts was a reflection of the art of the region in which it was produced, even if it continued to be based on older models.
The names of a few illuminators are known to us from their colophons, such as *Joseph ha-Ẓarefati, the artist of the Cervera Bible, completed in 1300 (Lisbon, Bibliotheca Nacional, Ms. 72) and Joseph *Ibn Ḥayyim, the artist of the Kennicott Bible, copied in 1476 (Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS. Kennicott 1) (see *Bible: In the Arts). Another Sephardi artist, Joshua b. Abraham ibn Gaon, a masorator and illuminator, specialized in adding illuminated calendars and carpet pages to Bibles (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale hébreu 20 and 21). The most famous Ashkenazi scribe/artist was *Joel b. Simeon, who was active in Germany and Italy in the second half of the 15thcentury. Other names appear in contracts for book illuminations. In one such example, from Palma de Majorca in 1335, Asher Bonnim Maymo undertakes to copy and illuminate a Bible and two books by Maimonides for David Isaac Cohen. In the 15th century a Portuguese Jew, Abraham *Ibn Ḥayyim, compiled a treatise on the art of illumination. Most of the scribe/artists of the 18th-century schools of Central Europe are known by name.
The Second Commandment, prohibiting the making of "graven images," was usually interpreted as a restriction against creating art for idolatrous purposes. In the case of illuminated manuscripts produced for Jews in the Middle Ages, when the decorators eschewed representational art, it was mainly the result of the stricter attitude of their general environment. For instance, the Jews in Muslim countries refrained from depicting human figures in sacred books because of the Islamic prohibition against such illustrations. A further example of restricted representation of the human form developed in Germany during the 13th century. Perhaps under the influence of the ascetic Christian movement in the south of Germany and northern Italy during the 12th and 13th centuries, a similar asceticism developed among Jews. In many manuscripts human figures were no longer depicted in their entirety, but with distorted features, blank faces, or with the head of an animal or a bird. Although pagan, Christian, or Islamic in origin, animal-headed figures became one of the main Jewish motifs in south German Hebrew illumination of the 13th and 14th centuries. However, R. *Meir of Rothenburg, the leader of the Jewish communities in Germany at the end of the 13thcentury, disapproved of illustrating prayer books because of the distraction the illustrations might cause the reader, rather than because the art was prohibited.
Another characteristic aspect of Hebrew illuminated manuscripts was a direct outcome of the absence of capital letters in Hebrew script. In place of the large initial letters of non-Semitic languages, which lend themselves to decoration, in Hebrew manuscripts initial words were often written in large display script and were frequently embellished with decorative panels. At times whole verses were embellished, as in decorated Arabic Korans. This approach continued throughout the Middle Ages in Europe as well as in the Near East.
Another element common in the decoration of Jewish manuscripts was the use of micrography (minute script) to form geometrical or floral designs often surrounding a page of conventional script or forming a whole carpet page. The most common examples are the marginal lists of irregularities in writing, spelling, and reading the Bible which constitute the so-called masorah magna. In Oriental and Spanish Bibles, the masorah is written in micrography in decorated carpet pages, and masoretic micrography outlines the design, for example, of the Oriental Second Leningrad Bible (St. Petersburg, Public Library, Ms. B19a), the Damascus Keter from Spain (Jerusalem, Jewish National and University Library, MS Heb 40790), and the Lisbon Bible from Portugal (London, British Library, Or. Ms. 2626–2628). In Ashkenazi Bibles the masoretic micrography decorates initial-word panels as well as the margins of text pages. Unlike Oriental and Spanish Bibles, the micrographic decorations contain animals and hybrid forms, and sometimes text illustrations; e.g., the Duke of Sussex Pentateuch (London, British Library Add MS 15282) copied ca. 1300.
The decoration found in Jewish manuscripts was often inspired by biblical scenes or by legendary episodes based on midrashic commentaries on the Bible. Some of these episodes,
The *iconography of some subjects is specifically Jewish, as distinct from the Christian or Islamic representations. For instance, in Christian art, a picture of the creation of the world will include the image of the Creator. In a Jewish work, however, only the Hand of God or rays will indicate the Divine presence, as in the Sarajevo Haggadah (Sarajevo, Bosnian National Museum). Jewish customs and rituals are depicted in many liturgical manuscripts; a favorite subject was the implements of the *Temple.
As the illumination in Jewish manuscripts is directly related in style to the general schools of illumination, it serves as an important link with the history of non-Hebrew illuminated manuscripts. Moreover, in areas where the only dated illuminated manuscripts are Hebrew, this may become important evidence for dating and placing a certain style. For example, the Copenhagen Moreh Nevukhim (Copenhagen, Det Kongelige Bibliotek, Cod. Heb. 37), copied in Barcelona in 1348, helps in dating other manuscripts and paintings from Catalonia.
Most Hebrew manuscripts were written on animal skin. The finest calfskin vellum, called "uterine vellum," came from embryos and stillborn calves. It was more expensive and therefore used only for the most costly manuscripts. Usually both sides of the parchment were used, except for the full-page miniatures of the Sephardi Golden Haggadah (British Library, Add MS 27210) and the Sarajevo Haggadah (Sarajevo, Bosnian National Museum), for which the artists of the cycle of biblical scenes used only the flesh side, leaving the hair side blank. Sometimes, especially in the Orient, paper was used for writing and decorating.
Most of the colors were derived from vegetable and animal extracts, with the more durable ones created from a mixture of ground minerals or colored stones. The binding medium, which enables the pigments to adhere to a surface, might be a mixture of egg or gum, such as gum Arabic. Gold and silver were usually applied in the form of a thin leaf, in which case it was the first element of color to be affixed. Often it was applied on a raised ground of gesso that was sometimes mixed with a colorant such as bole. The metallic leaf was often burnished and could be decorated by tooling. Gold pigment, known as shell gold, was made from a powdered form of the metal that could be painted on as an ink. The volume and texture of colors differed from one school to the other and from one period to the next, generally reflecting the local school of illumination. To a large degree the scribe determined the eventual decoration of the page, as he planned the layout of the text and provided blank spaces for the inclusion of initial word panels, text illustrations, and other types of ornamentation. The Prato Haggadah (New York, Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary, MS 9478), a manuscript whose decoration was never completed, exhibits the various stages of illumination, from the placement of the preparatory drawings executed in brown ink, to the application of bole, gold leaf, and finally, pigments of various colors. In decorated Bibles, the masorator was usually responsible for most micrographic decoration. Joshua Ibn Gaon, the scribe, vocalizer, and illuminator, signed his name in the wings of a dragon drawn in micrographic masorah (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale hébreu. 20 fol. 69).
The main schools of illumination, Oriental, Spanish, German, French, and Italian, are treated below. For a fuller description of particular types of manuscript art, see *Bible, *Haggadah, *Ketubbah, and *Maḥzor (sections on illuminated manuscripts).
The earliest-known school of surviving Oriental Hebrew illuminated manuscripts dates from the tenth century and probably originated in the Near East. An offshoot of this school developed in Yemen during the 15th century.
Examples of the various Oriental styles from the tenth to the thirteenth centuries exist in Hebrew manuscripts. In most cases of dated manuscripts, the style corresponds to Islamic art of the same period. The geometrical interlacing interwoven with foliage scrolls and palmettes typical of Arabic Koran decoration may also be found in the Hebrew Bible manuscripts. In the tenth century, the delicately gold-tinted open flowers seen from above, arranged one next to the other within undulating scrolls to form a rhythmic pattern, are the most typical decoration in carpet pages of Korans and Bibles alike. Light blue, green, and red, which fill the background of the palmette motifs, are similarly common, e.g., the two carpet pages in a tenth century fragment of a Hebrew Pentateuch written in Arabic characters (London, British Library, Or. Ms. 2540). In the 11th and 12th centuries, dark outlines were applied to the interlacings and flowers, usually on a panel of gold background decorated with deeper colors, as may be seen clearly in the 1008 or 1010 Second Leningrad Bible (St. Petersburg, Public Library, Ms. B. 19a). By the 14th century, there was a decline in the art of Hebrew illumination in the Near Eastern schools although the schools producing Judeo-Arabic manuscripts continued to flourish.
The Yemenite school, surviving examples of which date from the end of the 14th century and later, developed to its fullest capacity only in the second half of the 15th century. Yemenite Bibles were embellished with floral carpet pages and micrography in geometrical forms (e.g., London, British Library, Or. Ms. 2350 of 1408 and Or. Ms. 2348 of 1469). These Bibles contain no text illustrations, but the decorations on the text pages are similar to, and probably derived from, the earlier Oriental type. Roundels bearing palmette motifs and other floral designs were used as fillers for incomplete lines or as section indicators (e.g., London, British Library, Or. Ms. 2348 of
From the tenth to the thirteenth centuries, books for teaching children the alphabet were also decorated. The letters were outlined in ink and filled with different colors. After the colored and vocalized letters, there followed a section of the Pentateuch, usually Leviticus 1:1–7, which was regarded as the most suitable text for a child's initial study. An opening carpet page was usually added to these books, denoting their distinct relation to the Bible. One example in the Cambridge University Library (TS.K. 5.13) depicts the seven-branched menorah on its opening carpet page. Liturgical books were also decorated in the Near East. The Haggadah conventionally had illustrations of the round mazzah wafer and the maror. Initial words sometimes were written in a special way, as in the piyyut of "Dayyeinu" ("It Would Have Sufficed"), in which the repeated initial word in each verse is written one beneath the other to form a decorative column (Cambridge TS, 324). Some fragments of decorated scientific books originating in the Near East have survived; they have geometrical and floral motifs, with colored roundels, squares, foliate scrolls, and ornamental script used as section headings and line fillers (Cambridge TS, Arab. 11/31).
A different approach to decorating Jewish manuscripts is found in books produced in Persia at a somewhat later date. Judeo-Persian (the Persian language written in Hebrew characters) manuscripts copied in the 17th century included many figural scenes. These works, biblical epics based on texts written in the 14th to the 16th centuries, reflect the style of miniature painting from Persia.
The Spanish and Provençal schools of Hebrew illumination reached their peak during the 14th century. The style and iconography of the Spanish school derive from both the Orient and the Occident. While the existing Spanish illuminated manuscripts belong to the period of the Christian Conquest, some reveal a strong link with the Oriental type of illumination. Spanish Bibles have decorative elements commonly found in Oriental Bibles, such as carpet pages, the Temple implements, micrography, decorated parashot indicators, and, at the end of each book, ornamental frames indicating the number of verses. There is a theory that these elements were assembled and modified from the eighth to the thirteenth centuries in Hebrew manuscripts of Muslim Spain. Since no Spanish Hebrew illuminated manuscripts of this period have survived, this assumption cannot be verified. The few existing dated Hebrew manuscripts from the Iberian Peninsula are mainly Bibles. They are stylistically so different from the illustrated Haggadot and from the non-illustrated liturgical, legal, and scientific books that it is very difficult to make a comparative study.
A Bible penned by Menahem bar Abraham ibn Malik in Burgos in 1260 (Jerusalem, Jewish National and University Library 40 790) displays an early example of Sephardi Bible decoration. Ornamental carpet pages appear before the beginning of the Pentateuch, Prophets, Hagiographa, and Psalms, and at the end of the manuscript. The symmetrical decorations are similar in style to ornamentation found earlier in manuscripts and architecture from the Near East. Another Bible, copied in Toledo by Ḥayyim ben Israel in 1277 (Parma, Biblioteca Palatina Cod. Parm. 2668), presents an early example of what was to become a prominent motif in Sephardi Bibles, a double-page depiction of the Sanctuary implements.
Several illuminated Sephardi Haggadot are extant, but they are difficult to date and localize. Unlike the Bibles, which often include lengthy colophons that specify the identity of the scribe and the patron, and indicate the place and date of execution, the Haggadot do not contain such information and their decorations are not similar enough stylistically to the Bibles to aid in their localization. Some of the Haggadot have French stylistic elements, while others are more Italianate in appearance. A distinctive feature found in some of these manuscripts is the inclusion of a series of biblical scenes, often appearing at the beginning of the manuscript, before the text recited at the seder. Biblical cycles that begin with scenes from Genesis are found at the opening of the Golden Haggadah (London, British Library. Add. Ms. 27210), and its so-called "Sister" (London, British Library Or. Ms. 2884), which bears iconographic, but not stylistic, similarities. Other Haggadot that include a cycle beginning with scenes from Exodus are found in the Rylands
The destruction of most of the Jewish communities in the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon in 1391 brought to an end some of the most important schools of Hebrew illumination in these areas, and many illuminated manuscripts were destroyed. During the 15th century, however, new schools developed – some in the above-mentioned kingdoms, though in different population centers. One of these new centers was Seville, in the south. Two Bibles from the middle of the 15thcentury, formerly in the Sassoon collection, are good examples of this school. The earlier one, from 1415 (Ms. 499), is only barely decorated with micrography. The later one, from 1468 (Ms. 487), has many micrographic decorations of full pages, panels, arcades, and borders. A Bible from Berlanga copied in 1455 (Oxford, Bodleian Library, Ms. Can. Or. 77) is also related in decoration to the south Spanish school of the mid-15thcentury. In Corunna, northern Spain, the First Kennicott Bible (Oxford, Bodleian Library, Ms. Kennicott 1) was copied, punctuated, and masorated by Isaac ben Don Solomon de Braga in 1476. The manuscript includes a separate colophon by the artist Joseph ibn Hayyim, who fashioned his letters out of human and animal forms, as the artist of the Cervera Bible had done earlier. Although different in style, there are certain similarities in the choice of decoration of these two manuscripts.
The most important school in the Iberian Peninsula at the end of the 15th century was the Portuguese. Most of the manuscripts of this school are Bibles, though it also produced a few prayer books like the siddur completed in Lisbon in 1484 (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale hébreu 592) and some copies of Maimonides' Mishneh Torah. The manuscripts of the Portuguese school, centered in Lisbon, are decorated with wide borders ornamented with lush foliate forms, sometimes inhabited by animals and birds, framing their opening pages. Initial words are often written in gold within very large panels embellished with filigree work. Among the most important manuscripts of this school are the British Library Mishneh Torah of 1472 (London, British Library Harley Ms. 5698 – 9) and the Lisbon Bible of 1482 (London, British Library Or. Ms. 2626–28). Most of the Portuguese manuscripts have no text illustrations. The Bible of the Hispanic Society of America (New York, Ms. B. 241) can be attributed to the Portuguese school because of the typical decorative motifs in the frames of the opening pages of the books.
In addition to the magnificent Bibles and Haggadot, legal books were also illuminated in Spain. The most common of these works was Maimonides' Mishneh Torah. The treatise often has an entire framed page at the beginning of each of its 14 books. Text illustrations in the Mishneh Torah appear only in Book Eight, accompanying the description of the Temple and its implements. Most Mishneh Torah manuscripts, in Spain as well as in Germany and Italy, include a diagram of the Temple that indicates the proper position of each of the implements. The British Library Mishneh Torah, copied in 1472 (Harley Ms. 5689–99), is one of the most elaborately and delicately decorated examples of Spanish illumination. Maimonides' philosophical treatise, Moreh Nevukhim (Guide of the Perplexed), sometimes contained decorations at the beginning of each of the three sections of the text and at the beginning of individual chapters. The most elaborately illuminated example is the Copenhagen Moreh Nevukhim (Copenhagen, Det Kongelige Bibliotek, Cod. Heb. 37) of 1348, which includes text illustrations at the opening of each of the three parts, in addition to a few minor illustrations within the text. Other philosophical treatises, such as Levi b. Gershom's Sefer Milhamot Adonai of 1391 (Oxford, Bodleian Library, Ms. Poc. 376), contain decorated opening pages. Some scientific treatises have diagrammatic or instructional illustrations. The Hebrew translation from the Arabic of the astronomical text Almagest by Ptolemy (formerly Sassoon Ms. 699) has hundreds of diagrams as well as painted panels. Another astronomical manuscript formerly in the Sassoon collection (Ms. 823) contains treatises by many authors. The part composed by Ptolemy has depictions of the heavenly constellations, signs of the zodiac, and cosmological diagrams. Jews were the expert astronomers in Spain, constructing astrolabes and preparing many nautical maps.
The expulsion of the Jews from the Kingdom of Spain in 1492 and from Portugal in 1496–97 resulted in their spreading throughout Europe and into North Africa. The Spanish Jews brought their illuminated manuscripts to all these areas. In style, and especially in the system of illumination, the Spanish schools influenced Hebrew illuminated manuscripts in Italy, Turkey, Tunisia, and Yemen. Despite the invention of printing, some examples from these countries are extant from as late as the beginning of the 16th century.
Side by side with the Sephardi culture, which developed in
The northern French school of Hebrew illumination seems to have been one of the most important in the Ashkenazi communities. Of the few surviving illuminated French manuscripts most are sparsely decorated; some, however, are sumptuous and reveal the high quality and sophistication of French illumination. The British Library Miscellany (Add Ms. 11639; possibly from Troyes, c. 1280) is one of the finest examples. The work contains 84 different texts, including the Pentateuch and Haftarot, daily, Sabbath, and festival prayers, Grace after Meals, and various legal codes. Many of the pages are illuminated with floral, animal, and hybrid motifs and the text of the Haggadah includes several illustrations. Most interesting are the four groups of full-page miniatures that are inserted in the text. The lack of uniformity and the repetition of certain subjects within these illustrations, such as Aaron lighting the menorah (fols. 114 and 522v), indicate that they are not the work of one artist. It appears that Benjamin, the scribe of the manuscript – who had his name illuminated in several places (e.g., 142v, 306v) – gave directions to the illuminator in the lower margins of some pages. In one instance (fol. 219v), the scribe wrote shalshelet ("chain") in the lower part of the page and the artist accordingly decorated the side margin near the text with an undulating chain ornamented with fanciful animal forms. Most of the full-page miniatures are biblical, others are midrashic or eschatological.
An outstanding example of northern French illumination is found in the Kaufmann Mishneh Torah (Budapest, Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Kaufmann Collection Ms. A77/I–IV). The beginning of the introduction and each of the 14 books that comprise the text are elaborately illuminated with decorated initial word panels and various ornamental motifs, some of which are biblical scenes, such as David confronting Goliath and Moses receiving the Tablets of the Law.
Few illuminated Bibles and Haggadot have survived from France. Common to the northern French Jewish communities were small manuscripts containing the Psalter. Though most of these are merely decorated, one in the Bodleian Library (Oxford, Or. Ms. 621) opens with a half-length representation of David playing the harp. Legal books of French origin are primarily copies of Moses of Coucy's Sefer Mitzvot Gadol; they are mainly decorated, but a few contain illustrations.
At the end of the 14th century, some illumination developed in Southern France (properly Provence) where the Jews were allowed to remain after the expulsion. Bibles, prayer books, philosophical treatises, such as Levi b. Gershom's Sefer Milḥamot Adonai, and scientific and medical treatises have survived. Southern French illumination of this period is closer in style to Italian and Spanish schools than to those of northern France.
The earliest surviving European Hebrew manuscripts are from Germany. A manuscript containing the biblical commentary by *Rashi, written by Solomon b. Samuel of Würzburg in 1233 (Munich, Bayrische Staatsbibliothek, Cod. Hebr. 5), is the earliest dated of these illuminated manuscripts. Appearing within panels at the opening of sections are scenes from the Bible that illustrate the text. The style, which is directly related to the south German school of manuscript illumination, displays a markedly Jewish characteristic in that the human faces are featureless. While the reason for this is not definitely known, it may be connected with other means of distorting the human form common in southern Germany during the 13th century, such as covering human faces with crowns, wreaths, kerchiefs, or helmets; depicting them from behind; or replacing them with animal or bird heads. All of these devices are employed in the Ambrosian Bible (Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana Ms. B. 30–32, Inf.) of the south German school, which was written for R. Joseph b. Moses of Ulm between 1236 and 1238. Z. Ameisenowa has suggested that people with animal heads designate holy men, righteous people, evangelists, or deacons. This practice, which may have originated in Islamic and Persian art, was borrowed by Christian as well as Jewish artists. The Jewish school of illumination in southern Germany adopted this motif and used it not only for representations of righteous people and angels, but at times also for Gentiles. Since there was no official prohibition against the depiction of the human form in illuminated manuscripts, it would appear that the south German Jews imposed this restriction upon themselves out of some iconophobic notion that may have developed there from the pietistic movement headed by *Judah and Samuel he-Ḥasid in the 12th century. The movement of *Ḥasidei Ashkenaz was ascetic, restricting embellishments in private or public life and forbidding any sort of decoration in manuscripts, even to the extent of prohibiting decoration with micrographic masorah.
The south German school of illumination was the most prominent and prolific of the Ashkenazi schools. It is also probably the most closely related in style to the contemporary local south German Latin illumination. From the beginning, the only Jewish motif in Hebrew illumination from southern Germany was the distortion of the human face. The soft undulating drapery, bright colors with dark outlines, expressive gestures, and acorn scrolls with large leaves and open composite flowers seen from above are but a few of the south German stylistic features to be found in Hebrew as well as in Latin illumination of the 13th and 14th centuries, as in the Aich Latin Bible and the gradual of St. Katharinental of 1312.
Several illustrated maḥzorim, books containing special readings for the entire liturgical year, including festivals and the seven "Special Sabbaths," were produced in the 13th and 14thcenturies. In the earlier examples, as in a maḥzor completed in 1258 (Oxford, Bodleian Library Ms. Michael 617, 627), and the Leipzig Maḥzor (Leipzig, Universitätsbibliothek, Ms. V 1102), human faces either display distorted features or are replaced
Decorated Haggadot from Germany include textual, ritual, biblical, and eschatological illustrations. Unlike the approach utilized in the Sephardi Haggadot, most of the illustrations, including biblical scenes, are placed in the margins in the Ashkenazi examples. Some 15th-century German Haggadot, such as the Yahuda Haggadah (Jerusalem, Israel Museum 180/50), contain full-page illustrations of preparations made for the seder, which precede the text of the Haggadah.
Secular illuminated Hebrew manuscripts from Germany are rare. One of the more common is the Meshal ha-Kadmoni by the 13th-century Spanish poet Isaac b. Solomon ibn Abi *Sahula. This lengthy rhymed collection of exemplary tales was usually illustrated with a set of pictures at the opening of each chapter. Since each picture has a rhymed inscription by the author, it is assumed that the manuscript was, from its inception, intended to be illustrated, but no Spanish example has survived. It must have been a highly popular book in southwest Germany during the 15th century, for several complete copies are extant, as well as a few fragments.
Few artists from medieval Germany can be identified by name. An exception is Joel ben Simeon, sometimes called Feibush Ashkenazi, who is the most widely known, having signed several manuscripts. Active in Germany and Italy in the second half of the 15th century, he was of German origin, probably from Cologne or Bonn, but worked in northern Italy as well.
Italian Hebrew illumination may have been one of the earliest schools in the West, just as the Jewish community in Italy was one of the oldest and culturally most developed in Europe. Hebrew illuminated manuscripts from Italy are most varied in their style and type. Many were executed by the finest Italian artists. Produced by diverse schools from the end of the 13thto the beginning of the 16th century, they vary widely in their mode of decoration, which includes ornamental border designs, illuminated initial word panels, and full-page illustrations. Geographically diverse, in addition to being influenced by Ashkenazi and Sephardi illuminations, decorations varied from region to region. Many Italian Hebrew manuscripts are decorated with ornamental initial-word panels at the openings of sections. In some of the more elaborate examples, the entire opening page, or at least the first text column, is decoratively framed. This ornamentation ranged from simple foliate scrolls surrounding the text to stage-like arcades intricately embellishing the frontispiece. Bibles, maḥzorim and siddurim, literary texts, books of halakhah, and secular works of philosophy, science, and medicine frequently are enhanced with ornamental frames at the openings of the books, prayers, chapters, or sections. Some manuscripts have text illustrations in the margins, within the text, and as full-page miniatures. The Italian Haggadot follow the Ashkenazi system of marginal illustration and initial-word panels.
The Bishop Bedell Bible in Emmanuel College, Cambridge (Ms. I.I. 5–7), penned by Abraham b. Yom Tov ha-Kohen for his patron Shabbetai b. Mattathias and completed in 1284, is an example of the Roman-Jewish school of illumination at the end of the 13th century. In addition to two illuminated frontispieces (fols. 1v–2), the openings of individual books of the Bible are embellished by round arches. A rare example of an illuminated Psalter was produced in northern Italy, perhaps in Emilia, toward the end of the 13th century (Parma, Biblioteca Palatina Ms. 1870). The opening of each chapter is illuminated, and sometimes illustrated. Included among the images is King David, a choir of men singing, and even people weeping next to their violins that hang on a willow, illustrating Psalm 137.
Hebrew legal texts were illustrated in Bologna by the 14th century, possibly under the influence of the Bolognese school of miniaturists that specialized in illuminating papal decrees, urban laws, and other legal documents. A manuscript containing the halakhic decisions of R. Isaiah of Trani (13th century), copied in Bologna in 1374 (London, British Library Or. Ms. 5024), exemplifies this type of decoration. Among the illustrations in this Jewish text are scenes of a man lighting a Ḥanukkah lamp, a woodcutter stoned for working on a festival day, a Tabernacle and a man carrying the symbolic fruits of Sukkot, carpenters working with stolen wood, a bull attacking a cow, a merchant selling a ship, and a judge. The style of the illuminations resembles that of the school of Niccolo di Giacomo da Bologna.
Diverging from the approach used in decorating Maimonides' Mishneh Torah in Sepharad and Ashkenaz, in Italy this work was often accompanied by detailed text illustrations. A noteworthy example is found in a manuscript in the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem (Ms. Heb. 4° 1193), copied in Spain or in Provence in the first half of the 14th century. The first part of the manuscript was later illuminated in Italy, around 1400, perhaps in Perugia, in the style of Matteo di Ser Cambio. Apart from border decorations, the Mishneh Torah includes text illustrations in initial-word panels and in the margins of the first 40 pages. The beginning of the "Book of Love [of God]" depicts a man holding a Torah scroll within the initial-word panel, while in the bottom border another man is seated by a bed, reciting the shema before retiring for the night. Other illustrations depict men gossiping and punishment by stoning.
Other schools are known to have existed in central and northern Italy at the end of the 14th and beginning of the 15thcentury. These schools were sometimes initiated by a single patron – a book and art lover who ordered illuminated manuscripts for his private use or as presents for friends and relations. One such school revolved around a physician named Daniel b. Samuel ha-Rofe at the end of the 14th century.
Another group of manuscripts from the end of the 14thand early 15th century was executed for a father and son of the Bethel family. The father, Jehiel b. Mattathias, commissioned manuscripts at the end of the 14th century. A Sefer Arukh ha-Shalem written by *Nathan b. Jehiel of Rome, copied in Perugia in 1396 (Parma, Biblioteca Palatina Parm. Ms. 3012), and a siddur from Pisa of 1397 (formerly Sassoon Ms. 1028) were both ordered by Jehiel. Other manuscripts were commissioned by his son, Jekuthiel, between 1415 and 1442.
Many different types of texts were illuminated in Italy in the 15th century. A copy of Jacob ben Asher's Arba'ah Turim copied in Mantua in 1435 is elaborately illuminated (Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Cod. Rossiana 555). The manuscript is similar in style to Mantuan Latin illumination of the first half of the 15th century. At the beginning of each of the four sections of this legal treatise is an illustration that relates to the text: a synagogue scene with men praying before the Torah ark, a scene of the slaughtering of animals and fowl, a wedding scene, and a court scene. Another important manuscript, perhaps from Lombardy, is a Mishneh Torah manuscript, bound in two volumes (one in Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Cod. Rossiana 498 and the other in a private collection in New York). The opening of the introduction and each of the 14 books is decorated with a large miniature illustrating the text. Other illustrations appear in the margins of the text and all provide a wealth of information concerning the realia of Jewish life in 15th-century Italy.
Arguably the most richly illuminated Hebrew manuscript from Renaissance Italy is the Rothschild Miscellany (Jerusalem, Israel Museum MS 180/51) commissioned by Moses ben Jekuthiel ha-Kohen and possibly produced in Ferrara. It contains approximately 70 religious and secular works including Psalms, Proverbs, Job, a siddur, a Haggadah, and Isaac b. Solomon ibn Abi *Sahula's Meshal ha-Kadmoni. In addition to many biblical scenes and the illustrations of Sahula's fables, the manuscript depicts numerous religious practices and customs regarding prayer and life cycle events.
A copy of the Canon of Medicine by the physician-philosopher Avicenna (988–1037) documents medical practices in Renaissance Italy (Bologna, Biblioteca Universitaria Ms. 2197). Included among the illustrations are scenes of patients bringing their urine specimens to a physician for analysis, bathing in water, sitting nude in the sun, and subjecting themselves to cupping, bloodletting, and surgery. A Halakhic Miscellany (Hamburg, Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek, Cod, Heb. 337), was written in Padua in 1477. The illustrations are executed in two different styles. Some of the scenes, such as the depiction of a wedding in which the bridegroom is wearing a yellow circle, are executed in a sophisticated Renaissance style, while other illustrations are portrayed with simple linear forms similar to those of Joel ben Simeon.
Florence, driven in part by the patronage of wealthy Jewish bankers, became a major center for the creation of illuminated Hebrew manuscripts in the 15th century. The Rothschild Maḥzor (New York, The Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary, MS 8892) was copied in Florence in 1490 for the wealthy Jewish banker Elia of Vigevano. More than two-thirds of its pages are decorated, but the art was produced by three different workshops. Most of the text illustrations were executed in a manner that is similar to those found in manuscripts associated with Joel ben Simeon, while the last part of the manuscript was executed using rich pigments and motifs that are typical of contemporary Christian manuscripts from Florence. Another example of fine illuminations executed in a Florentine style is found in a Book of Psalms, Job, and Proverbs (New Haven, Yale University, Beinecke Library Ms. 409), copied in Florence in 1467, which contains full-page miniatures preceding Psalms and Job, in addition to as finely illuminated borders on other pages. Naples was another important center of Hebrew illumination during the 15th century. The best-known example of this school's work is the Aberdeen Bible (University of Aberdeen, Ms. 23), possibly written in Naples in 1493. A Bible in Paris (Bibliothèque Nationale ms. hébreu 15) reveals how a text written and partially illuminated in the Iberian peninsula, probably in Lisbon at the end of the 15thcentury, was then transported to Italy where other illuminations were added. These lush decorations, which appear for example at the opening of the book of Isaiah, are so profusely embellished with an Italian architectural frame enhanced with grotesques and putti that the ornamentation appears to be almost three dimensional. This high point of manuscript illumination occurs at a time when Hebrew printed books are becoming more readily available, marking the beginning of the decline of manuscript illumination.
[Bezalel Narkiss /
Evelyn Cohen (2nd ed.)]
The creation of illuminated Hebrew manuscripts climaxed in Renaissance Italy. Although decorated handwritten books continued to be produced after printed books became readily available in the 16th century, they rarely equal the sophisticated illumination of the manuscripts that were produced in the latter part of the 15th century. A notably fine 16th-century example is found in a prayer book penned in 1520 (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale Fondation Smith-Lesouef, Ms. 250).
Two different types of decorated Hebrew manuscripts thrived after the 16th century. Ketubbot, primarily those created in Italy, but also in Northern Europe and Central Asia, were often adorned. In addition to ornamental motifs, some were decorated with biblical figures, at times referring to the names of the bride and bridegroom, and with images from the
A new phase in the development of decorated Hebrew manuscripts emerged in the 18th century in Germany and Central Europe, when wealthy Court Jews commissioned handwritten and painted books as luxury items. Many of these are personal prayer books, which include Haggadot, seder berakhot, seder tikkunei Shabbat, and seder brit milah. Some of these manuscripts were intended as wedding presents for brides and contain contemporary depictions of women. Many of the Haggadot were inspired by the printed edition of the Amsterdam Haggadah of 1695. Other features that reveal the influence of printed books are the inclusion of a decorated title page or the indication that the manuscript was written using otiot Amsterdam, the style of letters utilized for Amsterdam imprints, even though the book was written elsewhere.
Initially Vienna was the main center of this later flowering of manuscript decoration, but the practice spread to other cities, such as, Altona, Hamburg, Darmstadt, Fürth, Mannheim, and Berlin. Among the most noted scribe/artists are Aaron Wolf Herlingen of Gewitsch, Meshulam Zimmel of Polna, Aryeh Judah Leib of Trebitsch, Joseph ben David Leipnik, Uri Phoebus Segal, and Jacob Sofer of Berlin. The revival continued until the late 18th century. Some manuscripts, such as omer books, were copied and decorated in the 19th century, but the production was extremely limited. The 20th century witnessed a renewed interest in the art of manuscript illumination, which continues today, particularly in the form of ketubbot and Haggadot commissioned for private individuals.
[Evelyn Cohen (2nd ed.)]
References to books and articles which appear in L.A. Mayer, Bibliography of Jewish Art (1967), are quoted by referring to their number (e.g., Mayer, 2680). GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS AND HISTORIES can be found as early as 1778 in Tychsen (Mayer, 2674); D. Kaufmann, in: Mueller (Mayer, 1792), 255–311; M. Steinschneider (Mayer, 2524), 24–27; idem (Mayer, 2523), 326ff.; G. Margoliouth (Mayer, 1638); Frauberger (Mayer, 742); Leveen (Mayer, 1496); E.N. Adler (Mayer, 24, 25); R. Wischnitzer (Mayer, 2811/2846); Landsberger, in: C. Roth (Mayer, 2232), 377–454; J. Gutmann (Mayer, 2970) and B. Narkiss, Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts, Jerusalem (Encyclopaedia Judaica), 1969. CATALOGS OF COLLECTIONS AND EXHIBITIONS: M.L. Genaro et al., Codici decorati e miniati dell' Ambrosiana, ebraici e greci (1959); Mayer, Art, index, S.V. names of towns and collections; E. Munkacsi (Mayer, 1818); B. Narkiss, Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts from Jerusalem Collections, The Israel Museum, Exhibition Catalog no. 40 (1967). HELLENISTIC MANUSCRIPTS: Mayer, Art, 1496 (J. Leveen); 2207 (C. Roth); 2775, 2776A (K. Weitzmann); 1900, 1901 (C.O. Nordström); 1071, 1073 (H.-L. Hempel); 2972 (J. Gutmann); C.R. Morey, Early Christian Art (1958); P. Romanoff, in: JQR, 26 (1935), 29–35. ORIENTAL ILLUMINATION: R. Hoering, British Museum Karaite Manuscripts… (1899); Mayer, Art, 2515 (Stassof); 669, 670, 670A (R. Ettinghausen); 2003 (R.H. Pinder Wilson and R. Ettinghausen, in P. Kahle); 1721 (M. Metzger); H. Yalon, in: KS, 30 (1954/55), 257–63 (Heb.). SPANISH ILLUMINATION: Mayer, Art, 56, 59 (Z. Ameisenowa); 3009C (S. Schwarz); 1868 (M. Narkiss); 2809, 2828, 2839, 2855 (R. Wischnitzer-Bernstein); 1728B (T. Metzger); 2204, 2205, 2210, 2221, 2227, 2228, 2229, 2235–37 (C. Roth); 2160, 2161, 2164 (H. Rosenau); 2969 (J. Gutmann); 2061 (S. Radojćić); 2302 (A. Scheiber); 1837A, 1096, 2991A (B. Narkiss); 2900 (F. Wormald); 360 (R. Edelman); C.O. Nordström, in: Synthronon, 2 (1968), 89–105; B. Narkiss, in: Proceedings of the Fifth World Congress of Jewish Studies; J. Gutmann, in: Art Journal, 27:2 (1967/68), 168–75; M. Metzger, in: Gesta, 6 (1966), 25–34 (Eng.); C. Roth, Gleanings (1967), 316–9; B. Narkiss, in: The Golden Haggadah, Introductory Volume (1970); idem, in: KS, 34 (1958/59), 71–79; 42 (1966/67), 104–7; M. Meiss, in: Journal of Walters Art Gallery, 4 (1941), 45–87. ASHKENAZI (FRENCH AND GERMAN) ILLUMINATION: Mayer, Art, 53, 54, 55, 57, 58 (Z. Ameisenowa); 1147 (B. Italiener); 2203 (C. Roth); 1866 (M. Narkiss); 1222A (E. Katz and B. Narkiss); 23, 2819, 2825, 2827 (R. Wischnitzer-Bernstein); 2975 (Birds' Head Haggadah); 523 (E. Roth); 1781, 1782 (E. Moses); 1431, 1433, 1435, 1438 (F. Landsberger); 992 (J. Gutmann); 1662, 1663 (A. Marx); 723 (M. Fooner); 2193 (C. Roth); 1760 (O. Mitius); 1130 (M.J. Husung); 2981 (O. Kurz); 2246 (S. Rothschild); 2846, 2876 (R. Wischnitzer-Bernstein); 857 (D. Goldschmidt); 2239 (E. Roth); 2991 (B. Narkiss); 2023 (J. Pinkerfeld); 72A (H.L.C. Jaffe and L. Fuks); Wischnitzer, in: MGWJ, 75 (1931), 69–71; idem, in: JQR, 25 (1934/35), 303–6; M. Lehrs, Geschichte und kritischer Katalog des deutschen, niederlaendischen und franzoesischen Kupferstichs im XV. Jahrhundert, 2 (1908) and 9 (1934); M. Geisberg, Der Meister E.S. und Israel van Meckenem (1924); A. and W. Cahn, in: Yale University Library Gazette, 41:4 (1967), 166–76, pls. 177–82; M. Metzger, in: Mélanges offerts à René Crozet (1966), 1237–53; L. Mortara Ottolenghi, in: Quaderni dell'Universitá di Geneva (1967). ITALIAN ILLUMINATION: Mayer, Art, 2318 (R. Schilling and G. Swarzenski); 735, 738, 742 (H. Frauberger); 2847 (R. Wischnitzer-Bernstein); 1814, 1818 (E. Munkácsi); 2206, 2223 (C. Roth); 2990A (Milan Exhibition); D. Kaufmann, in: Juedisches Volksblatt, 52 (1863; see AZDJ); idem, in: REJ, 36 (1898), 65–74; B. Narkiss, in: KS, 43 (1967/68), 285–300 (Heb.); idem, in: Ariel, 21 (1968), 51–59 (Eng.); M. Brizio, Catalogo delle cose d'Arte e di Antichità d'Italia (1933), 161–63, 3 reproductions; I. Levi, in: REJ, 89 (1930), 281–92; G. Maẓẓatinti, Inventario dei manoscritte della Biblioteca Rovigo (1893), 4, no. 5; C. Bernheimer, Paleografia Ebraica (1924). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: GENERAL: L. Avrin, "Micrography as art," in: In Etudes de paléographie hébraïque (1981); I. Fishof, Jüdische Buchmalerei in Hamburg und Altona: Zur Geschichte der Illumination hebräischer Handschriften im 18. Jahrhundert (1999); L.S. Gold (ed.), A Sign and a Witness: 2,000 Years of Hebrew Books and Illuminated Manuscripts (1988); J. Gutmann, Hebrew Manuscript Painting (1978); idem, "Thirteen Manuscripts in Search of an Author: Joel ben Simeon, 15th-Century Scribe-Artist," in: Studies in Bibliography and Booklore, 9 (1970), 76–95; P. Hiat (ed.), A Visual Testimony: Judaica from the Vatican Library (1987); Jüdische Handschriften: restaurierin, bewahren, präsentieren (2002); K. Kogman-Appel, Jewish Book Art between Islam and Christianity: The Decoration of Hebrew Bibles in Medieval Spain (2004); M. Metzger, La Haggada enluminée (1973); T. Metzger, Les Manuscrits hébreux copies et decorés à Lisbonne dans les dernières décennies du XVe siècles (1977); T. and M. Metzger, Jewish Life in the Middle Ages (1982); V. Basch Moreen, Miniature Painting in Judaeo-Persian Manuscripts (1985); B. Narkiss, Hebrew Illuminated
BIBLIOGRAPHY OF FACSIMILES:
MEDIEVAL ILLUMINATION: The Ashkenazi Haggadah (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1985); The Barcelona Haggadah (London: Facsimile Editions, 1992); The Bird's Head Haggada, 2 vols. (Jerusalem: Tarshish Books, 1965–67); Il Canon Medicinae di Avicenna nella tradizione ebraica: Le miniature del manoscritto 2197 della Biblioteca Universitaria di Bologna (Giuliano Tamani, ed. Padua: Editoriale Programma, 1988); Die Darmstädter Pessach-Haggadah, 2 vols. (Leipzig: K.W. Hiersmann, 1927); Die Darmstädter Pessach-Haggadah, 2 vols. (Berlin: Propyläen Verlag, 1971); The Golden Haggadah, 2 vols. (London: Eugrammia Press, 1970); Haggadah (German Sassoon Haggadah) (Zürich: Lichtdruck AG, 1985); Die Haggadah von Sarajevo (Vienna: Alfred Hölder, 1898); The Kaufmann Haggadah (Budapest: Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 1957); Kaufmann Haggáda (Budapest: Kultura International, 1990); Codex Maimuni: Moses Maimonides' Code of Law: The Illuminated Pages of the Kaufmann Mishneh Torah (Budapest: Corvina, c. 1984); The Kennicott Bible (London: Facsimile Editions, 1985); Machsor Lipsiae (Vaduz: Société pour le Commerce Intercontinental Trust, 1964); The Parma Psalter: A Thirteenth-Century Illuminated Hebrew Book of Psalms with a Commentary by Abraham Ibn Ezra (London: Facsimile Editions, 1996); The North French Hebrew Miscellany (London: Facsimile Editions, 2003); The Prato Haggadah (New York: The Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary (forthcoming); The Rothschild Maḥzor (New York: The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1983); The Rothschild Miscellany (London: Facsimile Editions Ltd., 1988); The Rylands Haggadah: A Medieval Sephardi Masterpiece in Facsimile (New York: Abrams, 1988); The Sarajevo Haggadah (London: W.H. Allen, 1963); The Sarajevo Haggadah (Beograd: Prosveta, 1984); The Washington Haggadah: A Facsimile Edition of an Illuminated Fifteenth-Century Hebrew Manuscript at the Library of Congress Signed by Joel ben Simeon (Washington: Library of Congress, 1991); The Worms Maḥzor (London: Cyelar Publishing, 1985). POST-MEDIEVAL ILLUMINATION: The Book of Esther (Budapest: Helikon Publishing House, 1989); The Copenhagen Haggadah (Altona-Hamburg, 1739; Tel Aviv: Nahar Publishing, 1986); Grace after Meals and Other Benedictions (Copenhagen: Forlaget Old Manuscripts, 1969); Me'ah Berakhot (London: Facsimile Editions, 1994); Perek Shirah (London: Facsimile Editions, 1996); Pesah Haggadah (Ashkenaz, 1729; Tel Aviv: Nahar Publishing, 1985); Scroll of Esther: Facsimile Edition Jewish National and University Library, Jerusalem (Tel Aviv: W. Turnowsky, 1997);The Rosenthaliana Leipnik Haggadah (Tel Aviv: W. Turnowsky, 1987); Die Von Gelderen Haggadah (Vienna and Munich: Verlag Christian Brandstätter, 1997).
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.