Esther Scroll (V.2A)
Italy, Venice (?)
Second half of the 17th + later addition
Printed and hand-painted border + hand-drawn and hand-painted border Ink and gouache on parchment, 4 membranes, 19 text columns, 22 lines per column 177 × 1508 mm (7.0 × 59.4 in.) Turned wooden roller, 345 mm (13.6 in.)
This lavishly decorated and illustrated megillah was embellished with a printed and hand-colored border and belongs to a group of scrolls that the scholar Mendel Metzger has characterized as Gaster I type (see also HUC scrolls number 7, 8, 9, 11). However this example consists of both hand-drawn membranes (no. 1 and 2) and printed membranes (no. 3 and 4). The artist who illustrated the first two membranes retained the original layout, dimensions of the individual elements and composition of the narrative scenes. All decorative elements were precisely re-drawn by hand in black ink and painted with gouache. The scroll opens with foliage, flowers, figures of the four animals mentioned in the tractate Pirkei Avot 5:23 (a deer, a leopard, an eagle and a lion). At center is placed a cartouche with the image of a deer, supported on both sides by two rampant lions facing each other. Both margins contain illustrations enclosed in polylobed frames, alternately with interlaced patterns; the background of them was left colorless. The text panels are separated by the floral decoration with acanthus leaves. The scroll ends with decoration containing foliage, flowers and a blank cartouche. The dating of this group of the scrolls is based on two examples which contain the dates: 1666 (2002.01.0679, Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme, Paris) and 1673 (BAR MS 405 Oriental, Biblioteca Academiei Române, Bucharest).