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A. Inteoductory. 

i. There are two ways of studying Hebrew MSS. illu- 
minations, just as there are two ways of studying various 
other branches of knowledge, such as languages or religions. 
One of these ways may be called the isolated method, and 
the other is the comparative method. If the first-named 
method were adopted in the present case, all that one would 
have to do would be to note carefully the features exhibited 
by illuminations found in Hebrew MSS. Comparison with 
other kinds of MSS. illuminations would have to be ex- 
cluded. In following the comparative method, on the 
other hand, one would have to aim not only at knowing 
what Hebrew MSS. illuminations are like, but also at 
ascertaining their relationship to other branches of MSS. 

Now it is clear that a subject that is included in a 
University scheme of study should be studied in University 
fashion; and as the comparative method, which, by the 
way, is the very soul of modern study, has by this time 
gained a perfectly firm footing in University teaching, it 
would hardly do for Hebrew MSS. illuminations to lag 
behind the times ; and I would, therefore, first of all recom- 
mend that those who intend to make a more or less special 

1 This paper was originally written as a lecture to be delivered at the 
Cambridge Summer Meeting, 1906, though there was only time to read 
portions of it on that occasion. This explains the personal form of address 
which is occasionally used. To the same cause is due the frequent 
breaking up of passages into short paragraphs, such a method being well 
suited to the style of a lecture of this kind. Instead of remodelling the 
paper in order to make it conform to the usual style of an article, it has 
seemed best (some few alterations excepted) to leave it as it originally 


study of the subject we are now considering should by way 
of preparation make themselves acquainted with the main 
features of European and to some extent also of Eastern 
MSS. illuminations in general. 

Nor should students of the general subject of MSS. illu- 
minations put the Hebrew part of it on one side, as if it did 
not exist. The general subject is, to begin with, obviously in- 
complete if one branch of it is left out ; and secondly, I may 
even in these preliminary remarks, draw attention to one 
chapter of the art in which the Hebrew section fills a gap— 
or what is almost a gap — in the collections of illuminated 
MSS. in England and elsewhere. I refer to illuminations of 
Spanish origin. Specimens of this branch of early Gallic 
art (for specialists hold that the art of miniature painting 
was in the first instance imported into Christian Spain 
from France) are admittedly rather rare in our collections, 
and even illuminations that can be shown to have been 
executed in Spain are on examination often found not to 
exhibit at all } or but very slightly, the peculiar features 
which art critics have noted in illuminations of the 
decidedly Spanish manner. Here the Hebrew section steps 
in, for some at any rate of the illuminated Haggadahs, 
or Passover-night Services, in the British Museum and 
elsewhere, are not only of undoubtedly Spanish origin, but 
also exhibit some strongly marked features of genuine 
Spanish art. I admit that most of these MSS. have yet 
to be subjected to a special and accurate study in detail 
before a verdict can be pronounced on all points, but in 
the meantime the results of such a brilliant art-student as 
Dr. Julius von Schlosser, co-editor of the Haggadah von 
Sarajevo, who in forming his general estimate of these 
illuminations had reproductions of several of the British 
Museum Haggadah illuminations before him, are sufficient 
to justify the statement that students of the general subject 
of MSS. illuminations are likely to find in Hebrew MSS. 
specimens of Spanish art calculated to afford help in future 
investigations of this branch of early miniature painting. 


2. Coming now to slightly closer quarters with our 
subject, it may be useful to remark that though its extent 
is not very wide, it is capable of a double division. 

It may be divided (a) in accordance with the origin of 
the MSS. and the art which they exhibit, such as Spanish, 
French, Italian, or German. This clearly is a division 
which in itself fully demonstrates the necessity already 
insisted on that an effective study of Hebrew MSS. illu- 
minations must follow the comparative, and not the 
isolated method. 

But it may be divided (6) in accordance with the subjects 
illuminated, such as Bible, Prayer-books, Legal Codes, &c. 

The most serviceable plan, however, seems to be to 
divide first by subjects, and then — so far as materials 
allow — each subject by schools of the illuminative art. 

3. Literature. The task of giving an account of work 
already done in this special branch of study is not a diffi- 
cult one, and this for the simple reason that the sin of 
" making many books without end " has not yet pervaded 
this outlying region of research. Let the ground by all 
means remain sacred, but may the select few not be 
all too few. 

To be mentioned first and foremost is Die Haggadah 
von Sarajevo (Wien, 1898), by Drs. D. H. Miiller and 
Julius von Schlosser, to which we shall have occasion 
to refer frequently later on. It should, however, be 
mentioned now that, although treating mainly on the 
Haggadah or Passover-Night Service, there is a very con- 
siderable amount of general information in it on the whole 
subject, more especially so in Prof. David Kaufmann's 
essay Zur Geschichte der jiidischen Handschriften-Illus- 
tration, pp. 253-311. 

Next in order should be named L'Ornement JiSbreu, 
by Baron David Gunzburg and M. Vladimir Stassof. Of 
this work we shall also speak presently. 

Dr. Gaster has done good service in publishing (London, 
1 901) his Hebrew Illuminated Bibles of the Ninth and Tenth 


Centuries, containing reproductions of some fine specimens 
of early oriental illuminations. 

A large number of Hebrew illuminations have been 
furthermore reproduced in different volumes of the Jewish 
Encyclopedia ; and some reproductions are also found in 
various catalogues of Hebrew MSS., and in illustrations of 
articles in the Jewish Quarterly Review, the Revue des 
Etudes Juives, and other publications. 

References to a few other works will be found in Baron 
Gunzburg's 'Avant-Propos ' which accompanies L'Ornement 
Hebreu already referred to. 

B. The Jeavish Element. 

i. Having now said what seemed necessary by way of 
introduction, we may proceed to consider an important 
question which has recently been brought to the fore by 
Baron Gunzburg and M. Stassof s publication. 

Is there such a thing as a specific Jewish art of MSS. 
illumination ? 

This question was by the courtesy of the editors dis- 
cussed in the The Jewish Quarterly Review, July, 
1906, and I will therefore on the present occasion confine 
myself to a few additional remarks on it. 

The conclusion to which the large body of evidence 
irresistibly leads is, as I believe every careful student will 
admit, that the general homogeneity presented by the plates 
published by Baron Gunzburg and M. Stassof is to be 
accounted for not by the supposed existence of a specifically 
Jewish art of illumination, but by the oriental or semi- 
oriental provenance of the MSS. from which those plates 
were taken. The imitative character of the Hebrew MSS. 
illuminations produced in different parts of Europe can be 
proved beyond a shadow of doubt, and the corollary is 
that the same verdict holds good with regard to Hebrew 
illuminations executed *n countries lying eastward \ There 

1 It may here be remarked that the same kind of indebtedness meets 
us in Jewish architecture. The persistence of the Moorish style in the 


is even prima facie no reason whatever for assuming that, 
so far as art is concerned, the Jews of the Crimea, Egypt, 
Palestine, Mesopotamia, Yemen, and other eastern countries 
were more independent and original than the Jews of 
France, Italy, Spain, and other countries of the West. 

This imitative character of the St. Petersburg illumina- 
tions was indeed fully recognized by the late Prof. David 
Kaufmann, who had an almost unparalleled experience in 
such matters. In a note on p. 261 of the Haggadah von 
Sarajevo, Prof. Kaufmann wrote as follows : — 

" Die Handschriftenschatze der Kaiserl. Bibliothek in 
St. Petersburg und das Nachleben byzantinischer Kunst in 
der judischen Manuscriptmalerei wird das grosse Tafelwerk 
von Stassow und Baron David Gunzburg, das seit Jahren 
vorbereitet wird, eingehend beleuchten." 

The art, therefore, which is exemplified by the repro- 
ductions contained in the Portfolio was regarded by Prof. 
Kaufmann as in the main at any rate of Byzantine origin, 
and it may in addition be suggested that a comparison of 
these plates with the fine set of Byzantine, Syriac, Coptic, 
Arabic, and other oriental illuminations published by 
M. Stassof himself in his L'Omement Slave et Oriental 
(St. Petersburg, 1887), will reveal a general family likeness 
between eastern Jewish illuminations and the other branches 
of the illuminative art as practised in the East. Only in 
the Jewish branch of it the prohibition of the second 
commandment relative to the representation of human and 
other figures has been strictly obeyed, whilst the Christian 
forms of the same art rather favour these pictorial adorn- 

Instead, therefore, of putting forward these plates as 
representative of a traditional and specific Jewish art of 

building of Synagogues in various countries is no exception to this rule, 
as it was borrowed all the same. As an illustration from the Far East 
may be mentioned the Synagogue of Kai-Fung-Foo in China, which was 
merely a replica of a Chinese Temple (see J. Q. B., XIII, pp. 25 sqq.). 
The peculiar form of the reading-desk (Seat of Moses) in the same 
Synagogue has, however, yet to be accounted for. 


MSS. illuminations, M. Stassof might have fitly added 
a Jewish section to his fine series of Byzantine and oriental 
illuminations, given in L'Omement Slave et Oriental. As 
we shall see presently, a Jewish oriental variety, distin- 
guished by certain subsidiary features from oriental art in 
general, may freely be allowed to exist, or rather to have 
existed. But this is something quite different from believing 
in the existence of a specific Jewish art of MSS. illumina- 

Two other brief criticisms 1 on the publication of Baron 
Gunzburg and M, Stassof before leaving this part of the 
subject. Their own plate A, taken by them to exhibit 
the same style of art as the rest of the Portfolio, belongs in 
reality — and very distinctly so — to the Gallic type. One 
clear deviation of this plate from all the others consists in 
the representation on it of the Cherubim by busts of 
winged angels, whereas — as has already been remarked — 
no form whatsoever of either animal, man, or angel, is 
found in Jewish oriental illuminative art. In such matters 
the Eastern Jews are at one with strict Mohammedans, 
whilst Jewish artists in France, Spain, Italy, and Germany 
have, in conformity with the artistic forms flourishing 
around them, put such scruples on one side. 

The next remark to be made is that M. Ropett's fine 
frontispiece intended to embody the " motifs " underlying 
the art exhibited in the plates of the Portfolio is misleading 
on one important point. The round Byzantine arch, which 
is so common a feature in the plates themselves, is entirely 
omitted in the frontispiece ; and, as if to complete the mis- 
representation, the sacred seven-branched candlestick is, 
contrary to its rounded form on the Arch of Titus— 
which, as can be seen from the illustrations of the article 
"Candlestick" in The Jewish Encyclopedia, is indeed 

1 A minor point to be noted is that plate C, taken from a Yemenite MS. 
in Baron Gfunzburg's own possession, shows a different style of colouring 
from Plates I-XXII, and the design of the ornamentations is also rather 
different. The plate in fact represents another branch (the Yemenite) of 
the oriental styles of illumination. 


the usual form — there represented with angular branches. 
There can, therefore, be no doubt that, as it stands, the 
frontispiece gives an incomplete and even wrong impression 
of the " motifs " of the art which it was intended to express, 
and this error seems to be part and parcel of the general 
misunderstanding regarding the place of these Jewish 
ornamentations in Eastern art in general. 

3. But whilst not able to affirm the existence of a specific 
Jewish art in MSS. illuminations, we must take note of 
some special Jewish features in illuminated Hebrew MSS. 
A Hebrew illuminated MS. of, say, French origin, impresses 
one at once as something different from a Christian MS. 
belonging to the same school of ornamentation; and the 
same kind of difference between Jewish and non-Jewish 
ornamentation lies on the surface of MSS. belonging to all 
schools. But these special features, such as the choice of 
subjects, the introduction of Jewish symbols, and — nega- 
tively speaking — the exclusion of symbols belonging to 
a foreign cult, are clearly not essential to the style adopted, 
but are — so far as the art itself is concerned — of a merely 
subsidiary nature. There is also often the indefinable 
Jewish tone that rests on Hebrew MSS. illuminations to be 
considered. We are there face to face with the Jewish 
spirit making itself perceptible in one way or another to 
the mind not only, but also to the eye ; but the technique 
and forms of the art as such are borrowed all the same. 
Some very interesting remarks on this part of our subject 
are made by Dr. von Schlosser in the Haggadah von 
Sarajevo, pp. 331-3. A case in point is the sinking of the 
dead body of Joseph in the Nile represented on fol. 20 of 
the Haggadah of Sarajevo. This special feature in the 
miniature rests on a later Jewish legend, but it is clearly 
a mere subsidiary detail. There would, in fact, be no reason 
why a Christian artist, hearing of such a legend, should 
not proceed to represent it pictorially. 

3. Quite different from the question as to the existence 
of a specifically Jewish art of MSS. illuminations is that 


proposed by the late Prof. Kaufmann and others, as to 
■whether the ornamentations of Hebrew MSS. were executed 
by Jews or Gentiles. The answer to this question will, in 
substantial agreement with that of Prof. Kaufmann him- 
self, have to be that, broadly speaking, Jewish artists of 
different schools are responsible for the Hebrew MSS. illu- 
minations that have come down to us. 

The ornamented Masorah, which forms so strong a feature 
in the plates published by Gunzburg and Stassof, are of 
Jewish workmanship on the face of them ; for the art is 
there literally part and parcel of the text itself, and no one 
will affirm that any but Jewish Scribes were in those days 
— or are indeed in our own day — capable of grappling with 
a subject like the Masorah. Indeed — if you will allow 
a short digression — the Masorah in so intricate and often 
so wayward a subject that even an experienced Masorite 
may at times find himself compelled to own his ignorance, 
a confession, by the way, which should in many another 
branch of study be more often made than is actually the 

With regard to the other kinds of illuminations, a dis- 
tinction ought to be made between ornamentations which 
are closely interwoven with the text illuminated and full- 
page or part-page illuminations detached from the text. 
In the former case a Jewish artist ought everywhere to be 
assumed. In the latter case the work will, in the vast 
majority of cases, also be found to be Jewish, though there 
no doubt are cases in which it would seem more reasonable 
to assign the illuminations to a Christian artist. 

Thus the representation of the Creator resting on the 
Sabbath Day depicted on fol. % in the Haggadah von 
Sarajevo is, with very good reason, assumed by Dr. Julius 
von Schlosser to have been executed by a Jewish artist, the 
figure of the Deity being quite different from the usual 
Christian representation of God 1 . In the Gebhardt Bible, 
preserved in the Benedictine Convent, Admont, we have, on 

1 See, however, I. Abrahams, Festival Studies, p. 50. 


the other hand, on the first panel in the pictorial history of 
the creation, as reproduced in Monumenta Judaica, vol. I, 
the Creator depicted much in the likeness of one form or 
another of the Christ in mediaeval art, with one winged 
figure on his right and another on his left, and all three 
with halos behind their heads. A miniature of this kind 
one naturally imagines to have come from the hand of 
a Christian artist. But it is impossible to exercise too 
much caution in such matters. Dr. Julius von Schlosser 
informs us, for instance, that the Deity showing himself to 
Moses in the burning bush is represented in an Italian 
MS. of the Haggadah in the Kaufmann collection (now 
public property in Budapest) in perfect conformity to the 
type of Christ in Christian art ; yet the illuminations of 
that MS. are supposed to have been executed by a Jewish 
artist. But again, a Hebrew Biblical MS. in the Laurentian 
Library at Florence is by Dr. Kaufmann himself shown to 
have been undoubtedly illuminated by a Christian hand 1 , 
although the illuminations themselves would, according 
to the same authority, be regarded as harmless from a 
Jewish point of view. 

The following two considerations should be kept in mind. 
The first is that in Europe, and more especially in France 
and Italy, Jewish artists had at a very early period eman- 
cipated themselves from the original Jewish objection to 
paint figures of men, angels, and even the Deity himself in 
illustration of the sacred story ; and as their art was based 
on Christian models, it is very difficult for us to determine 
how near to Christian types a Jewish artist may at times 
have allowed himself to stray. 

The second consideration is that in by far the largest 

1 Mr. E. N. Adler also thinks that the illuminated Hebrew MS. from 
the Ashburnham Collection which was sold some years ago at Sotheby's 
was really the work of Giotti and one of his pupils (see J. Q. R., XI, 
pp. 679-82). Dr. Kaufmann's statement that the Laurentian MS. re- 
ferred to in the text is the only known example of a Biblical MS. 
illuminated by a Christian hand would in any ease seem to be 


number of Hebrew MSS. illuminations deep and intimate 
sympathy with the subject is so unmistakable that it is 
impossible to think of any but a Jewish hand having 
executed them. It would not be quite natural that in 
those early days of general intolerance a Christian artist 
should have succeeded — or even seriously attempted— to 
identify himself so completely with the Jewish religious 
and national element that pervades many of these artistic 

4. Names. One other matter has to be considered 
before proceeding to a general survey of our materials. 
If we assume Jewish artists to have illuminated all or 
most of the extant illuminated Hebrew MSS., why is 
a mention of the artists' names so rare in these MSS. ? 
It might be held that the name of a Christian artist was 
likely to have been purposely suppressed in a Jewish MS. ; 
but what reason could there have been for omitting from 
such a MS. the name of a Jewish artist ? 

To this question two satisfactory answers can be 

t. In the first place the same absence or rather rarity of 
names meets us in all other kinds of illuminated MSS. 
If you glance through any large collection of such MSS., 
including various specimens of say French, English, or 
Italian illustrations, you will find that names of artists are 
everywhere conspicuous by their absence rather than by 
their presence. The mention of the artist's name is, in 
fact, the exception, not the rule, in all kinds of illuminated 
MSS., Jewish as well as non- Jewish. There indeed seems 
to have been much less individualism in those earlier days 
than there is now, and there was therefore also much less 
eagerness on the part of artists to inscribe their names on 
their work. 

3. Thanks mainly to the labours of the late Prof. David 
Kaufmann, we are in possession of a certain percentage of 
names of Jewish artists to justify us in assuming the 
existence of an unbroken line of such artists covering the 


whole period to which the extant illuminated Hebrew 
MSS. belong. 

It will on the present occasion be sufficient to mention 
a few representative names recorded in Prof. Kaufmann's 
Essay, together with one or two other names from fresh 

Beginning with Spain, we have, for instance, the name 
of Israel b. Israel of Toledo (a member, therefore, of an 
early Spanish Israeli family), from whose hand there are 
illuminated Bible codices of the years 1272 and 1277, 
preserved respectively at Paris and Parma. 

Two other illuminated Bible codices, one of which is 
preserved at Oxford and the other in a private library 
at Tripolis, were executed by sons of Abraham ibn Gaon, 
namely, Joshua ibn Abraham ibn Gaon and Shemtob ben 
Abraham ibn Gaon, in the years 1306 and 131 2 respec- 

Special mention should be made of the fact that there is 
extant a treatise on the preparation of colours and gold for 
purposes of illumination by the Hispano-Jewish writer 
Abraham b. Yehudah ibn Hayyim. This treatise is preserved 
in Codex de Rossi 945, and was written in the year 12,62. 

There is here indeed additional reason for thinking that 
illuminated Hebrew MSS. of Spanish origin, when duly 
taken notice of, are likely to fill what is almost a gap 
in even our larger collections of illuminated European 
MSS. in general. 

Turning now to Italy, described by Prof. Kaufmann as 
" das gelobte Land der hebraischen Handschriften-Illus- 
tration," we may add two names of Jewish artists to the 
very scanty results of Dr. Kaufmann's researches. The 
name of Moses b. Isaac is expressly mentioned in the epigraph 
of the first edition of Bahya ben Asher's Commentary on 
the Pentateuch (Naples, 1492), not only as a clever type- 
cutter, but also as skilled in the preparation of woodcuts 
(YD nBTiro D3n) ; and as early printing as well as the 
illuminations accompanying it were — as in the nature of 


things it could indeed not be otherwise — taken over bodily 
from the art of the scribe and the MSS. illuminator, we 
may fairly assign this Moses ben Isaac a place in our list. 

The second Italian name to be mentioned is that of 
Solomon Italia, who flourished about the middle of the 
seventeenth century, and from whose workmanship the 
British Museum possesses copper-plate engravings of an 
Esther scroll, containing architectural and floral designs 
over each column, with a female figure holding a palm- 
branch in her hand resting on each side of the rounded arch. 
The figures of Ahasuerus, Esther, Mordecai, and Haman are 
placed in regular succession within the columns. The text 
of the Megillah is in manuscript, and we thus have another 
link between writing and the art of printing. 

In Gandellini's Notizie istoriche degli Intagliatori (Siena, 
1808), p. 136, Italia is described as " forse di natione Ebrea" 
(perhaps of the Hebrew nation), but as there again the only 
work mentioned is the engraving of a portrait (dated 1641) 
of the Jewish artist Judah Leon, known by the name of 
Templo, his Jewish origin — as indeed the name Salomon 
sufficiently suggests — may be assumed as practically cer- 

The name of Judah Leon or Templo brings us to 
Holland. He acquired the appellation Templo from his 
colossal models of the Tabernacle and Solomon's Temple, 
which were purchased in 1643 by Queen Henrietta Maria 
of England. This artist, though not introduced here as 
a MSS. illuminator, serves to strengthen our belief in 
a continuous line of Jewish artists who took sacred things 
as the subjects of their art. 

But the largest number of known names of Jewish 
artists belong to the eighteenth century, when there was 
quite a revival of MSS. illuminations — not indeed of a very 
original or very elevating kind — in Germany, Poland, and 
some of the adjacent countries. 

Prominent among those names is that of Israel ben Asher, 
of Selz in Lithuania, who wrote and illuminated in 1748 



Hayyim Vital's Kabbalistic work D w n Y$ ("tree of life"), 
the MS. being preserved in the library of Copenhagen 
(No. XLIII). 

Mose Juda, son of Benjamin Wolf Broda, of Trebitsch in 
Moravia executed in 1723 an illuminated Haggadah for 
Lazarus von Geldern, an ancestor of Heinrich Heine. 

A third name is that of Aaron Wolf Herrlingen of 
Gewitch (also in Moravia). Illuminated MSS . from his hand, 
dated 1749, 1751, &c, are preserved in private collections. 

C. General Survey of Extant Materials. 
I. The Bible. 

We naturally begin with the Bible, which, notwith- 
standing the higher and even the highest critics, still 
somehow continues to exist. 

Here we have two kinds of illuminations to consider; 
(1) the Masorah in the form of designs, and (a) Pictorial 
and border illuminations. 

1. The finest specimens so far known of the illuminated 
Masorah are reproduced in Gunzburg and Stassof s Port- 
folio. I would more particularly direct your attention to 
Plates VII and VII* in which the Masoretic diagrams are 
very elaborately worked out in gold and colours. The date 
of the MS. from which these two plates are taken is a.d. ioio, 
and its provenance is Cairo. It appears very likely that 
most, if not all, the specimens of illuminated Masorah in 
this Portfolio are of Karaite origin. Artistic designs in 
Biblical books, as indeed in Hebrew books in general, must 
have been regarded even in Geonic times in the light of an 
innovation \ There is no trace of the art of illumination, 
not to speak of miniature painting, in Talmudical litera- 
ture 2 ; and it is, therefore, very likely that the Karaites, 

1 On the tradition preserved by Philo and Josephus that the Code of 
the Law sent by the high-priest from Jerusalem to Ptolemy Philadelphus 
was written in gold, see Gaster, Hebrew Illuminated Bibles, p. 9. See also 
DnoiD roDa, I, 9. In rate, fol. 103 b, it is enacted that a min idd in which 
the divine Names (nroiH) are written in gold should be hidden away. 

2 See Gaster, Hebrew Illuminated Bibles, p. 10. 


who, by the way, were in early days very numerous in 
Cairo and Palestine, were the first to override the old 
objection to illuminations, and follow in this respect —as 
they did in several other matters — the lead of the Moham- 
medan world. This innovation extended, however, only to 
the representation of arches, sacred utensils, and diagrams 
of all kinds. Miniatures of any sort remained — as in the 
illuminations of the Koran and Mohammedan religious 
books in general — strictly excluded. 

The Rabbanites may be presumed to have adopted — and 
this notwithstanding the protest of several authorities J — 
the art of illumination later on, having found it to be 
harmless and a relief from the tedium of unbroken serious- 
ness. Among western — and, therefore, certainly Rabbanite 
— specimens of the Masorah in diagrams, I would, in 
addition to those given by Kaufmann, mention the British 
Museum MS., Add. 21,160 (circa 1300), a page of which is 
reproduced in Dr. C. D. Ginsburg's Portfolio of Facsimiles 
(2nd edition), PI. XI. This MS. was written in Germany, 
the home at that time mainly of grotesque rather than 
beautiful illustrations. Strange-looking animal figures are 
the main stock of these designs. 

In Spanish MSS. the Masorah is as a rule written out in 
a purely straightforward fashion. Specimens, however, of 
the Masorah, neatly shaped in the form of candlesticks, &c, 
are found in the B. M. MS. Add. 12,250, which probably 
belongs to the thirteenth century. A page of this MS. is 
reproduced in Dr. Ginsburg's Portfolio, plate xvii. Mr. 
David Sassoon's Biblical MS. written in Spain in 1383 also 
deserves special mention. 

2. In speaking of pictorial and border illuminations, 
a sharp distinction has to be made — so far as the Pentateuch 
is concerned — between the scroll and the codex. In the 
scroll, intended as it was—and is— for use at Divine 
worship, no additions whatsoever are allowed, not even 
vowel-signs or accents (although a number of Yemenite 

1 e. g. Yehudah Hasld, in the second half of the twelfth century. 

K 2 


Pentateuch scrolls exhibit -what is known as dry points 
to mark the pauses). But in the codex or MS. in book- 
form, which was intended for private use, the prohibition 
not to add anything was not generally held to apply, 
and the scribe thus felt free to introduce all kinds of 

Many examples are described by Kaufmann, but we 
may here mention a few specimens drawn chiefly from 
other sources. 

Beginning with oriental ornamentations, there are, besides 
the MSS. represented in Gunzburg and Stassof s Portfolio, 
some fine specimens in Dr. Gaster's possession, reproduc- 
tions of which can be seen in his publication entitled 
Hebrew Illuminated Bibles of the Ninth and Tenth 
Centuries, to which reference has already been made. 

Akin to these, and quite as early, are the undoubted 
Karaite specimens of ornamentation preserved in the 
B. M. MS. Oriental 2540. A page of this MS., showing 
the Hebrew text of a part of Exodus in the Arabic 
character, provided with Hebrew vowel-points and accents, 
and exhibiting ornamentations in gold to mark the " open " 
and " closed " sections l in the text, has been reproduced 
in the B. M. Catalogue of Hebrew MSS., vol. I, pi. v. 

A few ornamentations of Persian origin and a number of 
Yemenite illuminations are reproduced from British Museum 
MSS. on plate B of Baron Gunzburg's Portfolio, and plate C 
of the same publication represents a Yemenite Biblical 
MS. in Baron Gunzburg's own possession. To these 
should be added the B. M. MS. Or. 2348 (dated a.d. 1496), 
foil. I54 1 ", 155* of this MS. exhibiting elaborate ornamenta- 
tions interwoven with the date of the MS. and the name of 
its first owner. Red of different shades, but never of a very 
clear or bright hue, predominates in all the illuminations 
hailing from Yemen. 

Specimens of North-African Biblical illumination of the 
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries are to be found in the B.M. 

1 The romrDi nimnD do not, however, tally these with the usual order. 


Add. MS. 15,^83 (formerly in the collection of the Duke of 
Sussex). The border illuminations on the opening pages 
of the books of the Pentateuch exhibited in this MS. 
resemble for the most part Byzantine patterns given in 
M. Stassof's L'Omement Slave et Oriental, but the illus- 
tration at the beginning of Genesis reminds one of what may 
be called Hispano-Italian patterns of the fifteenth century. 

Of Portuguese origin (dated Lisbon, 1483) is the beautiful 
MS. of the Old Testament numbered Or. 2626-8 in the 
B. M. Collection. The text itself is left unornamented 
(plate iii in B. M. Cat. vol. i), but the list of the 613 
Commandments and the Masoretic rubrics given at the 
beginning and end of the volumes are placed within finely 
executed Arabesque borders, and whole sentences, tastefully 
arranged, are frequently written in gold. It must be 
remarked, however, that these and other ornamentations, 
though produced in the Spanish Peninsula, exhibit much 
likeness to Italian and partly also to French ornamenta- 
tions of the same period. 

Italian Biblical ornamentations of the fourteenth and 
fifteenth centuries are worthily represented by, e.g., the B. M. 
MS. Add. 15,423 (formerly in the collection of the Duke of 

Elaborate representations of the golden candlestick and 
other Temple utensils are found — again in addition to 
those mentioned by Kaufmann and the reproductions in 
Baron Gunzburg's Portfolio — in the B. M. MSS. King's 1 
(a.d. 1383) and Add. 12,250 (thirteenth and fourteenth cen- 
turies) already mentioned. These two MSS. may be described 
as being of Hispano- French origin, the writing being 
Spanish, and the form of ornamentation belonging to the 
French order. 

An interesting specimen of decidedly German art is the 
B. M. Add. 15,282. It has full-page illuminations at the 
beginning of each of the books of the Pentateuch, consist- 
ing mainly of Gothic architectural designs, and various 
human and animal figures, the latter both natural and 


grotesque. Smaller illuminations are found at the begin- 
ning of each of the Megilloth, Lamentations excepted. The 
designs and the colouring are worth studying. Gold pre- 

None of the MSS. so far mentioned contain pictorial repre- 
sentations of biblical passages or historical scenes. It will 
be seen further on that the main repository of such represen- 
tations is the illuminated Haggadah. They are rather rare in 
Biblical MSS. One such specimen, is, however, preserved in 
the Library of this University (Cambridge). I am referring 
to the MS. Ee. 5, 9 which, besides a number of other orna- 
mentations, contains a frontispiece to the Book of Job 
representing the patriarch seated on a dunghill, tormented 
by Satan, whilst his wife stands before him offering evil 
counsel. This MS. is of German origin, and is dated 
a.d. 1347. 

3. A word must be said on illuminated rolls of the book 
of Esther. A sharp distinction has to be drawn between 
the scrolls intended for use in the synagogue, or, more 
generally speaking, for public liturgical recital, and those 
prepared for private use. In the former kind no additions 
of any sort were allowed. But in the case of private scrolls 
illuminations were popularly considered a proper adjunct to 
the text. 

Of the various extant specimens I will here only mention 
two. The B. M. MS. Or. 1047, which is of German origin 
and probably belongs to the sixteenth century, contains on 
the upper and lower margins and in the spaces between the 
columns a large variety of coloured drawings, representing 
the events recorded in the book. The person who illu- 
minated this MS. was a caricaturist with a genuine vein of 
humour, and his coloured drawings are well worth looking 
at. The diminutive waist of Queen Vashti, for instance, 
shows what probably was the high " mode " in Germany at 
the time, not unlike, indeed, the superlatively high " mode " 
of modern days. No wonder that, with such a waist, Queen 
Vashti came to grief. 


Another illuminated roll of Esther (which, however 
I have not personally seen) is preserved in the parish 
church of Yarmouth. It seems to exhibit affinities with 
the B. M. MS. just spoken of. 

II. The Haggadak. 

In the "Textband" of the edition of Haggadah of 
Sarajevo, Haggadah illuminations are grouped under the 
following headings: (1) Spanish, (2) French, (3) German, 
(4) Italian. 

On the present occasion I will only briefly speak of the 
Sarajevo illuminations themselves and of six illuminated 
Haggadahs in the British Museum. 

But it is first of all necessary to remark that illuminated 
Haggadahs of the Spanish school are as a rule provided 
with a series of miniatures in illustration of early biblical 
history, and more particularly of the events connected with 
the Egyptian bondage and the Exodus. These generally 
precede the text of the Haggadah, but are occasionally 
found at the end. So far, only one instance is known of 
a Haggadah of other than Spanish origin being provided 
with such a series of pictorial illuminations. This is the 
Italian Haggadah of from the thirteenth to the fourteenth 
century in the Kaufmann Library at Budapest, described in 
TheHaggadah of Sarajevo, pp. 187-99. But the editors them- 
selves state that, though the main character of its illumina- 
tions is Italian, the Haggadah also shows some decidedly 
French elements, besides a few oriental features. The 
likelihood is that the idea of adding a series of pictorial 
representations has in this case come to Italy from Spain 
by way of France, so that the exclusively Spanish origin 
of these series of miniatures still remains vindicated. 

So far as the Haggadah of Sarajevo itself is concerned, 
the editors, after a careful scrutiny, came to the conclusion 
that its origin must be sought in North Spain, a conclusion 
which finds a striking confirmation in the fact that the first 


page of illuminated text (see the frontispiece of the edition) 
includes a coat of arms which is believed to have been 
worn by the Kings of Aragon since 1137. It must not be 
forgotten, however, that so far as liturgical and other 
matters are concerned, the South of France stood in a close 
relationship with the North of Spain. 

The miniatures begin^as you may see from the " Tafelband " 
of the edition, with the history of the creation, continuing 
thence to the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai, and con- 
cluding with four illuminated pages showing (1) the blessing 
of the people by Moses before his death, and the laying of 
his hands on Joshua; (2) a representation of the Ark of the 
Covenant together with adjacent architectural features of 
the future Temple ; (3) scenes from the " Se'der " ; (4) a pic- 
ture of the interior of a Synagogue and worshippers. The 
last plate in the " Tafelband " is a reproduction in colours 
of a page in the text of the Haggadah. 

Of the six B. M. Haggadah MSS. which I should now 
like to bring briefly to your notice, five belong to the 
Spanish ritual, and one is of German origin. 

(a) MS. Add. 27,310 (XlVtk Century) contains a series 
of miniatures illustrating the history of Genesis and the 
earlier portions of Exodus, the first picture representing 
the naming of the animals by Adam, and the last the 
preparation of the Passover. Each illuminated page is 
divided into four equal compartments, and the sketches, 
which are in blue, red, and other colours, are thrown on 
gold ground. A page of illuminated text has been repro- 
duced in the B. M. Catalogue, vol. II, pi. vi. 

(b) In MS. Or. 3884 (XlVth Century) the series of minia- 
tures opens with a sketch representing the creation of 
Adam, and ends with a representation of the family at 
table during " Se'der." All except the last two pages con- 
tain two pictures each, one on the upper and the other on 
the lower half of the page. Of the last two pages, which 
contain only one picture each, that representing a " Minbar," 
or rostrum in the Synagogue with a full complement of 


worshippers has been reproduced in the B. M. Catalogue 
vol. II, pi. vii. The impression of this scene, with the 
seven characteristic lamps suspended from beams below 
the arches or from the ceiling, is decidedly Moorish. The 
arch on the left shows, however, the trifolium shape. The 
form of the pulpit here represented should have been 
included in the illustration of the article " Almemmar " in 
the Jewish Encyclopedia, vol. I. 

The colour predominating in the miniatures is red. The 
initials in the text are partly in gold and partly in silver. 

(c) MS. Or. 1404 (XlVth-XVth Century) presents a series 
beginning with a sketch of Moses at the burning bush and 
ending with representations of the Passover-night services. 
Each page contains two pictures, one occupying the upper 
and the other the lower half of the space. The paints are 
rather heavily laid on, and are often blurred. Much gold 
has been used. 

This MS. shows mueh likeness to the Crawford Spanish 
Haggadah (now in the Rylands Library, Manchester) ; and 
it is remarkable that the editors of the Haggadah of Sarajevo 
have not noticed this fact. Their idea that the art in it is 
an " Abklatsch der gleichzeitigen italienischen Kunst " is, in 
the face of what they themselves say of the Crawford 
Haggadah, decidedly erroneous. They would no doubt 
have judged otherwise if they had had the opportunity of 
studying the MS. itself, or if they had had more than one 
small specimen of it before them. The Crawford Haggadah 
is, however, no doubt superior to it. 

(d) MS. Or. 2737 (XlVth Century) is an example of 
a Spanish Haggadah with the series of miniatures following 
instead of preceding the text. The first subject represented 
are the labours of the Israelites in Egypt. The series 
continues down to the preparation of the Passover lamb, and 
is then followed by four designs illustrating the intended 
sacrifice of Isaac. Red is the predominant colour. This 
MS. is of octavo size, most of the other Spanish Haggadahs 
in the British Museum and elsewhere being of quarto size. 


(e) Add. 14,761 (XlVth Century) is a Spanish Haggadah 
without a series of historical pictures. It has by way of 
compensation (1) very finely executed representations of 
the "Se*der" in its different stages ; (2) pictures of Babban 
Gamaliel and other Rabbis; (3) a rather slight sketch 
of the Exodus ; (4) a fanciful full-page illustration of a 
Matzah ; (5) various border ornamentations. The Spanish 
Iiaggadahs accompanied by series of miniatures are, how- 
ever, also provided with similar ornamentations of the 
text itself. 

The last B. M. Haggadah which I would bring to your 
notice is (/) the MS. Add. 14,76a, of German origin. It is 
a large quarto, almost approaching to a folio. No series 
of miniatures is, of course, to be expected in a German 
Haggadah, and this particular MS. is no doubt far surpassed 
by the German Haggadahs preserved in the " National 
Museum " in Niirnberg and elsewhere ; but I would draw 
your attention to a particular feature of German MSS. of 
this kind which is well represented on fol. 4 a in this B. M. 
MS. It is a feature which embodies a strong humorous 
element. I am referring to what is known as the " Jak- 
nehas " illustrations. This combination of sounds is only 
a memoria technica consisting of the first letters of J" 
(wine), W)lp (blessing over the cup), "13 (the ceremonial 
light), ninan (ceremony of separating the Sabbath and 
festivals from the days following them), and pi (time) — 
(the idea of times or seasons lying at the base of all festival 
celebrations). In trying to pronounce these letters, some- 
thing like "Jaknehas" was produced. This to a German 
ear sounded like Jagen Has, i. e. " chasing hare," and, turned 
round, it became Hasenjagd (i. e. hare hunting). It thus came 
to pass that German illuminators of the Haggadah and other 
texts accompany the passages connected with the memoria 
technica " Jaknehas " by scenes of the chase, in which, 
however, besides hares other innocent creatures, and more 
especially deer, are concerned. 

It is certainly funny that hares and other creatures 


should be hunted down simply because certain Hebrew letters 
appeared in their German pronunciation to suggest it. 
Scenes of hunting would, however, in any case have been 
introduced into the Haggadah and other Hebrew MSS. of 
German origin ; for such scenes appear to have been taken 
over bodily into Jewish MSS. from Christian models, in 
which the spiritual seeking out of people was often thus 
symbolized, and the memoria technica " Jaknehas " only 
served as a sort of humorous sanction of the practice. 
The humour appears, however, to have been partly uncon- 

III. Other Subjects. 

(a) Service-boohs. You will find a considerable amount 
of information on this part of the subject in The Haggadah 
von Sarajevo, Textband, pp. 267-77, and an illustrated 
German Mahzor, or Festival Service-book, is described 
with accompanying illustrations, on pp. 1 14-120 of the 
same work. There are also several illuminated Hebrew 
Service-books in this country ; but on the present occasion 
I will only draw your attention to two illustrated Italian 
" Mahzorim " in the British Museum, and a few others in 
private London libraries. The B. M. MS. Add. 19,944-5 
was executed in Florence in the year 1441 A. D., and may 
be regarded as a fine specimen of Jewish workmanship 
produced in that artistic city. Some of its illuminations 
should be compared with those found in the MS. of the 
Pentateuch, numbered Add. 15,423 already mentioned and 
Or. 5024 to be mentioned presently in connexion with 
legal codes. A specimen page of ornamented text in 
Add. 19,944 has been reproduced in the B. M. Cat. II, 
pi. viii. 

The other B. M. Italian illuminated MS., belonging, how- 
ever, to a different branch of Italian art, to which I would 
draw your attention, is the MS. Harley 5686, dated A. d. 
1466. Besides a number of ornamented initials and border 
illuminations, the MS. exhibits several pictorial illustra- 


tions. The most interesting of these is a bridal procession 
on fol. 27 b -38 a , the details and meaning of which still 
requires study. The drawing and colouring of the two 
scenes in the procession are very delicate, though now 
slightly faded. 

Dr. Gaster and Mr. David Sassoon also own illuminated 
liturgical MSS. of interest. Mr. E. N. Adler's very im- 
portant collection of Hebrew MSS. would, of course, also 
furnish interesting examples of this and other branches of 

(b) Legal Codes. Of illuminated legal codes I will also 
only mention two, it being part of the plan of this lecture 
to speak mainly of illuminations that have come under my 
own notice. 

A good Italian specimen is the B. M. MS. Or. 5024 
(dated A. D. 1374) which contains the "Decisions of Isaiah 
of Trani, the younger." Students will do well to compare 
this MS. both with Add. 15,423 (the Italian Pentateuch of 
the fifteenth-sixteenth century already mentioned) and the 
liturgical codex Add. 19.944-5 also already spoken of, as 
different stages of the illuminative art can be traced in 
them. MS. Or. 5024 is the earliest of the three, Add. 
19,944-5 comes last in order of time, and Add. 1 5.423 may 
be ranged between the two. 

Among the illuminations in this legal code I would 
specially mention the strictly ad rem picture placed at 
the beginning of the section which opens with the trans- 
action of selling a ship. On the side are duly painted in 
pleasing colours of blue, &c, a ship, and the buyer putting 
its priee into the hands of the seller. 

An exceedingly fine legal code containing the Mishneh 
Torah or Yad-ha-Llazalca " of Maimonides is the B. M. Codex 
numbered Harley 5698-9. It was executed in Spain, but, 
as is often the case with fifteenth century Spanish illumina- 
tions, the art is in the main Italian. From the reproduction 
of a page reproduced in the B. M. Hebrew MSS. Cat. II, 
PL III, it can be seen that the original arabesque design 


has been richly worked over with foliage, blossoms, fruit, 
and figures of birds. 

(c) Marriage Contracts. Specimens of "Kethuboth" 
from the tenth century downward are found in the 
Cambridge and also the Oxford share of the Cairo 
Genizah 1 , and a few of these are provided with illumina- 
tions. One of the earliest illuminated Marriage Contracts 
was recently acquired by the British Museum. It is on 
a large scale, measuring about a 8 in. by 23^ in. ; and it is 
dated Modena, Friday, the 7 th day of Marheshwan, a.d. 5318 
(i. e. late in a.d. 1557). The names of the contracting 
parties are Ephraim Kalonymus Sanguini and Luna, 
daughter of Mordecai Fano. 

The outer illumination, beginning within about an inch 
from the edges, consists of artistically cut out patterns 
showing blossoms, fruit, figures of birds, &c. Spaces of 
vellum are at regular intervals left uncut, and on these 
the signs of the zodiac have been painted, three on each 
side, beginning with Aries or n?B in the middle of the 
upper space, and continuing in the usual order on the 
right side of it. Eed paper (apparently of a later make) 
has been pasted underneath these cut patterns in order 
to set off the effect of the whole. The signs of the zodiac, 
it should be mentioned, connect the marriage-contract 
with astrology. 

The intertwined circular designs between these outer 
illuminations and the main part contain in minute writing 
portions of the Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, and suitable 
verses from the Psalms. 

The principal design consists of an archway bounded by 
waving pillars 2 like those in old St. Peter's Eome, which 

1 It almost sounds like a piece of irony to record that whilst the early- 
Cairo Kethuboth went to Oxford and Cambridge, the British Museum 
has got hold of a number of interesting ancient " Q-ittin." 

2 See Die Haggadah von, Sarajevo, p. 224. The waving pillars are also 
found on, e.g., the title-pages of "imn 'jipn (Mantua, 1557), the vn 
(Mantua, 1558-60), and the illuminated Haggadah printed at Mantua 
in 1560 (in this case coloured). 


have exercised so strong a fascination on the artistic 

The pillars are garlanded, and looped and knotted bands 
hang down from the outer corners of the capitals of each. 
An amoretto or cupid, with a trumpet in the right hand 
and a budding branch in the left, sits on the inner corner 
of the capital of each pillar, and a design which is ap- 
parently meant to represent a crown surmounts the 
archway, the words rfa b)p) jnn hp nnw b)p) JW hp 
(the voice of jubilation and the voice of joy, the voice of 
the bridegroom and the voice of the bride), being written 
in spaces left free in the upper ornamentation of each. 

The " Kethubah " itself is, of course, written in the open 
wide space of the archway, the whole producing something 
of the impression of an illuminated title-page, with an 
elaborate description of the book within the ornamenta- 

At the bottom, just over the lower line of the minute 
circular writing, are on the left side a group of coloured 
figures representing Abraham, Sarah, and Lot leaving 
Haran, with the Hebrew text of Genesis xii. 1 in the left 
corner. To the right of this group is a coloured figure, 
probably representing Israel personified (or, perhaps, the 
prophet Isaiah in the act of declaiming his prophecy), with 
Isa. xl. 27 in the right corner. 

(d) Religious Philosophy and Ethics. As in every other 
branch of the literature, so also with regard to philosophy, 
the esteem in which a work was held at the time can 
be measured by the amount of care bestowed on the 
production of copies thereof; and illumination of a fine 
and elaborate kind must be taken to mark a very high 
degree of such esteem. It does not, however, always 
follow that posterity confirms the opinion held of a book 
in the earlier days of its circulation. Examples of this 
kind are, as every one knows, superlatively common in 
our own days ; and antiquity was quite as likely to 
exaggerate the value of certain productions as people are 


in the present day. Besides, a book may be really of 
very high importance at the time of its appearance, and 
prove itself of little moment in the ages that follow. It 
may have served to grapple successfully with a certain 
vanishing phase of thought, or with a certain controversy 
that was raging at the time ; and when such a particular 
phase of thought had given place to another, or when 
the controversy had, partly at any rate, died down, the 
once important book had necessarily to give place to works 
dealing with other problems and other modes of human 

Thus, whilst on the one hand Moses Maimonides' 
Doctor Perplexorum, on which the illuminative art has 
bestowed so much care 1 , is a leading example of a work 
of pre-eminently lasting value thus honoured, there are 
also finely illuminated examples 2 of Jacob b. Abbamari's 
Malmad hat-Talmidim, a work which justly took high 
rank at the time of its appearance in the thirteenth century 
as a defence of the religious philosophy introduced by 
Maimonides, but is now only of value as exhibiting a 
phase in the Maimonidaean controversy. 

It is comforting, however, to know that by far the 
largest number of illuminated mediaeval Hebrew works 
proved of lasting value and importance. Antiquity thus 
appears to have been wiser in its day than many book- 
producers and book-readers are in the present day. 

As in a manner belonging to the subject of ethics may 
be mentioned illustrated copies of the Dw W» 3 (Para- 
bolae Vulpiwm) of Berachya Nakdan (whom some writers 
believe to be identical with Benedictus le Poncteur, who 
lived in Oxford in the thirteenth century) and the Fables 
of Isaac Sahula, entitled Wttipn i>p». 

(e) In speaking of Medical MSS., mention should be 

' The finest specimen (dated Barcelona, 1348) appears to be preserved 
at Copenhagen (see the Hag, von Sarajevo, Textband, p. 289). 
3 See op. cit. p. 290. 
s See Sag. von Sarajevo, p. 291. 


made of the Oxford Codex 2113, which contains an illu- 
minated copy of Maimonides Q^piS (or Medical Chapters). 
But the greatest amount of artistic care was naturally 
bestowed on Avicenna's Canon. The most finely illuminated 
Hebrew Codex of this great work is 2197 in the University 
Library of Bologna. The illuminations are indeed of so 
fine a quality that it was one of the Italian art-treasures 
which Napoleon ordered to be carried away to Paris, 
where it remained till 1815. 

(/) Family Megilloth and Testaments. Illuminated 
documents relating to family histories are, as far as our 
present information goes, of late origin; and illuminated 
last wills and testaments also appear to be a late idea 1 . 
Dr. Kaufmann mentions the will ornamented with pen- 
and-ink designs of Lemle Mose (or Rheingbnheim) executed 
in 1722. 

Our task is now completed, but at the conclusion 
I should like to draw your attention to a kind of illuminated 
13 i>3 (" everything in it "). This is the B.M. MS. Add. 11,639, 
which is the gem of the Museum collection of Hebrew 
illuminated MSS. It is of French origin, and belongs to 
the thirteenth century. The miniatures of this MS. are 
well worth the honour of having a special treatise written 
on them. The same may be said of several other illumi- 
nated Hebrew MSS. preserved in English and other 

G. Maegoliouth. 

1 See D. Kaufmann, Aus Heinrich Heine's Ahnensaal, p. 68 ; also 
Lowenstein, Geschichte der Juden in der Kurpfalz, pp. 170 sqq.