North French Hebrew Miscellany

North French Hebrew Miscellany – Facsimile Editions Ltd. – Add. Ms. 11639 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)

Northern part of France β€” 1277–1286

Pentateuch, Haggadah, but also legal treatises: a large number of beautifully illuminated Hebrew texts as a treasure trove of Jewish culture in the Middle Ages

  1. This 13th century Hebrew manuscript assembles a true treasure trove of medieval Jewish culture

  2. The texts range from the Pentateuch, to a prayer book with the Haggadah, legal treatises, and poems with calendars

  3. All of these Hebrew texts were accompanied by and illustrated with gorgeous miniatures and initials

North French Hebrew Miscellany

Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€€€
(7,000€ - 10,000€)
  1. Description
  2. Single Page
  3. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
North French Hebrew Miscellany

This Hebrew manuscript from the collection of the British Library in London assembles a true treasure trove of medieval Jewish culture: an exceptional variety of texts both biblical and profane, from the Pentateuch, to a prayer boots with the Haggadah, to legal treatises, and poems with calendars. All of these Hebrew texts were accompanied by and illustrated with gorgeous miniatures and impressive visual decoration. The manuscript, originating from northern France at the end of the 13th century, additionally shines because of the numerous names that are associated with its history! One of the most opulently decorated Jewish manuscripts from northern Europe!

North French Hebrew Miscellany

This Hebrew manuscript from the collection of the British Library in London assembles a true treasure trove of medieval Jewish culture: an exceptional variety of texts both biblical and profane, from the Pentateuch, to a prayer boots with the Haggadah, to legal treatises, and poems with calendars. All of these Hebrew texts were accompanied by and illustrated with gorgeous miniatures and impressive visual decoration. The manuscript, originating from northern France at the end of the 13th century, additionally shines because of the numerous names that are associated with its history! **One of the most opulently decorated Jewish manuscripts from northern Europe!

Elegant Miniature Decoration

King David with the harp, King Solomon reading, Esther and Ahasver people the splendid miniatures of the North French Hebrew Miscellany. Additionally, one finds other biblical scenes, e.g. the Binding of Isaac, and numerous symbolic depictions. The marvelous miniatures were presented in unusually round, golden frames or in typical rectangular depictions, sometimes in two or more registers. These wonderful, elegant compositions were presented before an ornamental background, which put the focus on the events.

Initials and Ornamentation

Aside from these wonderful miniatures, the decoration of the splendid manuscript consists of countless initials. Dogs, birds, and mythical creatures staff the pictures, e.g. a pelican with its young in the nest. The pages of text are also fancifully designed with exuberant ornamentation. Two pages with depictions of the heavenly body and a row with the zodiac signs round out the grandiose artistic dΓ©cor of the manuscript – accentuated with rich gold leaf and silver.

The Genesis of the Manuscript

The high-quality miniatures originate from various workshops in St. Omer and Paris. The biblical illustrations are attributed to the Master of MΓ©liacin and the school of the HonorΓ©-Master** (active in Paris 1283–85). These paintings adorn and illustrate the contents of the 1494 page manuscript, both religious and profane texts alike: the Pentateuch, Haftarot, Tiqqun Sofrim, five scrolls, a prayer book for the entire Haggadah, legal treatises, poems, calendars, and the Book of Tobit in Hebrew. A dating of the manuscript to the period between 1277 and 1286 is possible through two hints: it contains the earliest copies of the Sefer Mitzvot Kattan by Isaac de Corbeil, composed in 1270, and a reference to Yehiel de Paris, who died in 1286.

Owners Mentioned by Name

Numerous indication of earlier owners can be found among the texts and the wonderfully artistic decoration of the Hebrew manuscript. A scribe named Benjamin immortalized himself in the colophon. Additionally, it is marked on fol. 745 that a certain Samuel ben Hayyim sold the manuscript to Abraham ben Moses of Coburg. A few additional hints pointing to other owners in the 15th century can also be found.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
NordfranzΓΆsische hebrΓ€ische Sammlung
Size / Format
1,494 pages / 16.0 Γ— 12.0 cm
Origin
France
Date
1277–1286
Style
Illustrations
Numerous full-page miniatures. Gold and silver metal leaf applied in a special hand process to a raised surface on 611 pages, powdered gold applied elsewhere as it appears in the original.
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Samuel ben Hayyim
Abraham ben Moses of Coburg
Rabbi Abraham b. Michael
Rovigo family
Barberini family
M. Reina of Milan
Maison Silvestre in Paris
Payne & Foss
Frederic Madden

Available facsimile editions:
North French Hebrew Miscellany – Facsimile Editions Ltd. – Add. Ms. 11639 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Facsimile Editions Ltd. – London, 2001
Limited Edition: 330 copies
Single Page

North French Hebrew Miscellany

Esther Before Ahasuerus

The Jewish holiday of Purim commemorates the events of the Book of Esther, in which a beautiful girl saves the Jewish people after the she wins the heart of the Persian King. Here we see King Ahasuerus as he holds out his scepter to Esther, who has risked her life by entering the court uninvited to intercede on behalf of her people.

The scene is depicted using the contemporary fashions and architectures of 13th century France and is exemplary of illumination from this time and place: elongated figures with serene faces, a color palette dominated by red and blue, a finely patterned background, and the refined use of gold leaf. An early attempt at perspective can be observed in the King’s throne, which is slightly turned out toward the beholder.

North French Hebrew Miscellany – Facsimile Editions Ltd. – Add. Ms. 11639 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Facsimile Editions

#1 The North French Hebrew Miscellany

Facsimile Editions Ltd. – London, 2001
North French Hebrew Miscellany – Facsimile Editions Ltd. – Add. Ms. 11639 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
North French Hebrew Miscellany – Facsimile Editions Ltd. – Add. Ms. 11639 – British Library (London, United Kingdom) Photos with courtesy of the publisher

Publisher: Facsimile Editions Ltd. – London, 2001
Limited Edition: 330 copies
Binding: Smooth, dark-brown calf with 23-carat-gold tooling of the central medallions and edges and blind-tooling on the spine. The commentary volume is bound in white vellum. The facsimile and commentary volume are presented in an elegant, leather-edged slip-case covered in hand-marbled paper and lined with Fabriano Ingres paper.
Commentary: 1 volume by Jeremy Schonfield, Michel Garel, Diana Rowland-Smith, Malachi Beit-AriΓ©, Yael Zirlin, Ilana Tahan, and Raphael Loewe
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€€€
(7,000€ - 10,000€)
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