Esther Scroll (VIII.5)
Scroll created in Italy, Benediction sheet possibly created in Amsterdam
Second half of the 17th century
Printed and hand-painted border. Ink and gouache on parchment, 5 membranes, 19 text columns, 22, 23 lines per column + benediction sheet 275 × 2445 mm (10.8 × 96.3 in.) + 175 × 235 (6.9 × 9.3 in.) Wooden roller, ca. 500 mm (19.7 in.)
A lavishly decorated and illustrated megillah that the scholar Mendel Metzger has characterized as the Gaster II type. The ornamentation at the opening consists of foliage, flowers, animals and the images of the four animals mentioned in the tractate Pirkei Avot 5:23 (a deer, a leopard, an eagle and a lion). In the center is a decorative cartouche containing the coat of arms of Tamari family two hands in the gesture of the priestly blessing, flanking a tree surmounted by a crown. The main body of decoration consists of a row of arcades enframing the text columns. The arcades serve as a base for a balustrade on which pairs of birds are placed that are either turkeys or roosters with their heads turned towards the back (each sheet – except for the sheet no. 4 – contains a pair of turkeys, two pairs of roosters and a pair of turkeys). Between each two of them is located a cartouche and above each one of them is depicted either a double-headed eagle (accompanies the pairs of turkeys) or a peacock (accompanies the pairs of roosters). The following pairs of birds are separated by the flower-filled vases. The lower margin contains narrative scenes enclosed in rectangular frames separated by the bases of the pillars decorated with flowers. The illustrations seem to be printed from the separate metal plates and then colored by hand. The scroll ends with symmetrical floral decoration.
A separate benediction sheet accompanies the scroll. The text of the blessings are written within a large oval floral wreath. On both sides of it are two peacocks, and in the lower portion, a decorative empty cartouche is surmounted with heraldic helmet. The corners are filled with foliate decoration. Based on differences in the styles of decoration, it seems probable that the scroll and the benediction sheet were created in two different places – the scroll appears to be a product of the Italian, possibly Venetian, workshop, while the benediction sheet may have been created in the Netherlands, most likely in Amsterdam. Both pieces were created in the second half of the 17th century.