Lot 3: Decorated Vellum Esther Scroll - Baghdad, 19th Century - Sassoon Family
November 15, 2016
Jerusalem, IsraelLive Auction
Description: Decorated Esther scroll, on vellum, scrolled on a silver handle. Baghdad, Iraq, mid-19th century. Ink and paint on vellum; etched and engraved silver. 3 vellum membranes. The text of the Book of Esther is written in 21 columns, between which are decorative stripes of stylized flowers. 19-21 rows per column. The scroll opens with three introductory columns, surrounded by frames with flowers and containing different inscriptions: The first column contains the blessings said before and after the reading of the scroll and: "Cursed be Haman, Blessed be Mordecai ". In the second column, in large ("rabbati") letters painted blue, is the inscription "Scroll of Esther the Queen and Mordecai the King". In the third column, in rabbati letters painted green and burgundy, against a vegetal background and inside a frame, is the inscription "There was a Jew in Susa the capital whose name was Mordecai", and, in the middle of the column - "Son of Jair, son of Shime'I, son of Kish". Henceforth, along the upper and lower borders, on the margins of all the membranes, the lineage of Mordecai, followed by the lineage of Haman, appears written in orange rabbati letters. The vellum is scrolled on an engraved silver handle, with bands decorated in vegetal patterns. Above the upper band is another, smaller band engraved with the name of the owner, R.D. Sassoon. The Feuchtwanger collection contains a similar scroll from 1848. The Stieglitz collection at the Israel Museum (Jerusalem) also contains a similar scroll, from 1854, apparently written and illustrated by Yitzhak Meir Chaim Moshe Gabai from Baghdad (the author of the 1854 scroll was identified by comparison with a manuscript of the Song of Songs that contained identical decorations, from the collection of Prof. Meir Benayahu). Vellum height: 10.5 cm. Handle length: 20 cm. Good overall condition. Some stains. Paint smears, mostly to lineage text. Inserted in cloth-covered cardboard box with labels inscribed with the name of the famous collector David Solomon Sassoon. Exhibited: Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibition, Royal Albert Hall, London, 1887. See: 1. Catalogue of the Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibition, Royal Albert Hall, London 1887, Compiled by Joseph Jacobs and Lucien Wolf, Illustrated by Frank Haes. London, 1888, item no. 2061 (photographed). 2. "Jewish Tradition in Art: The Feuchtwanger Collection of Judaica" by Dr. Isaiah Shachar (Israel Museum, 1971), item 417. 3. "The Stieglitz Collection: Masterpieces of Jewish Art", Chaya Benjamin (Israel Museum, 1987), item 191. Provenance: Sassoon family collection.