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Megillat Esther on parchment, illustrated and painted. Gazzolo, north Italy. 1776.
Black ink on parchment, with the addition of a separate scroll with the blessings of the megillah. Written handsomely in Ashkenazi Stam script. 22 lines per column. At the top of most of the columns is a box with “HaMelech,” above which is a decoration of a crown. Given in a hard leather case with a velvet cover. Written by Yehiel Menachem son of Rav Avraham Urbino, a Soferstam and artist. At the botgtom of the illustration he writes “work done for melekhetkodesh in Gazzolo by the young soferYehiel Menachem, 9th of Adar, 1773” (additional inscription “Seder Hoshanot for all the days of Sukkot—Mantua 1778” appears in the “Gross Family collection” [illustration no. 13]). His inspiration for the painting was drawn from an engraving by Matheus Marian the Old, used mainly for printed Haggadot, since the known Amsterdam haggadah, in 1695 [Illustration no. 5]. While giving realistic proportions of the city of Jerusalem [illustrations 4 and 6]. At the beginning of the megillah, before the first page, is an additional, large and wonderful illustration that spreads the entire height of the parchment, under which is the name of the artist, place, and year of writing [illustration 7]. In the illustrations, the artist tells the whole story of the megillah. Above the roofs of the city, Hamman is hanged on a tall tree. In the garden of the huge palace, the virgins are gathered before the women’s guards. In the beginning, Mordechai is led through the streets of Shushan dressed in royal clothes, riding on the king’s horse, by Hamman. Hamman’s daughter pours filth on her father. The artist was inspired to draw this artwork from a number of engravings from the haggadot of the artist Francisco Grissalini (1717-1787), which this artist includes skillfully as part of a single illustration [8,9,10,11,12]. The latter two (14 and 15), like a few others, appear in Seder HaHoshanot, and the person decorating the sukkah is Grissalini. This should contribute to clarifying the process of the transformation of the collection of Jewish artwork. An additional unique characteristic in this megillah is the exact dating of the megillah, in addition to the artist’s name. Height: 24cm. Length: 300cm. Generally very good condition.
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