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Thérèse Metzger

(fl c. ?La Coruña, 1476).

Spanish illuminator of Jewish origin. He is one of the few illuminators whose names have been recorded. He signed only one manuscript, known as the Kennicott Bible (Oxford, Bodleian Lib., MS. Kenn. 1); no other manuscripts can be identified as his work. The date (1476) and place (La Coruña) at which this manuscript was copied are the sole evidence for the date, and, possibly, the location of his activity. It has been suggested that he may have been the son or some relation of Abraham ben Judah ibn Hayyim, the putative author of a treatise on colours in Portuguese language and Hebrew letters, composed in the 15th century. T. Metzger (1977) has shown that Abraham was a 13th-century author known only through a small masoretic work completed in Loulé, Portugal, in 1262 and thus wholly unconnected with the 15th-century anonymous and unlocated treatise on colours. (Copies of both treatises have survived in one volume from the second half of the 15th century, bound with seven other texts; Parma, Bib. Palatina, MS. Parm. ...

Article

Evelyn M. Cohen

(fl 15th century).

?Portuguese writer of Jewish origin. A treatise on the preparation of colours and gold for use in manuscript illumination (Parma, Bib. Palatina, MS. De Rossi 945) has been attributed to him (for a contrary opinion see Metzger); it is the only extant book of this kind apparently written by a Jew. The Portuguese text is written in Hebrew characters. An ornate signature of Abraham ibn Hayyim appears on fol. 20r, and an inscription of fol. 1r states that the work was written by him in Loulé in 1262; the author was consequently believed to have lived in the 13th century, but the treatise is now generally accepted as being of the 15th century, when Portugal, especially Lisbon, was an important centre of Hebrew manuscript illumination. It has been suggested that Joseph ibn Hayyim, the artist who illuminated the Kennicott Bible (1476; Oxford, Bodleian Lib., MS. Kenn. 1; ...

Article

Evelyn M. Cohen

The most profusely decorated Hebrew codex produced in Renaissance Italy. It is a compilation of approximately 70 works, including biblical, liturgical, historical, legal, philosophical, astrological, Cabbalistic and moralistic texts, many of them with a commentary written in the margins. The religious works include the books of Psalms, Proverbs and Job, a Machzor and a Haggadah. The secular books include Josippon’s history of the Jews (based on Josephus) and the Meshal ha-Kadmoni. The codex would thus have functioned as a miniature library. The patron of the manuscript is unknown, as there is no colophon or inscription of ownership, but the name Moses ben Jekutiel ha-Cohen, mentioned in the blessing of the Torah (fol. 106), possibly refers to the original owner. The calendar of the lunar cycle (fol. 471) begins with 1470, and stylistically the manuscript appears to belong to the third quarter of the 15th century.

This small (210×156 mm) codex, written on fine vellum in an Italo-Ashkenazi script, is composed of 437 folios, 408 of which are illuminated. In addition to two full-page miniatures for the Book of Job and five full-page diagrams, the manuscript contains approximately 200 smaller text illustrations, which are placed in the columns of text, the outer margins of the pages, or the borders of the initial word panels. These pictures capture the daily life of a Renaissance Jew in Italy by portraying the religious observances that were performed daily, on the Sabbath and on the various holy days, as well as the rituals of circumcision, marriage and mourning. Biblical episodes are also depicted, as are scenes from numerous animal fables....

Article

Evelyn M. Cohen

[Feibush Ashkenazi]

(fl 15th century).

Jewish scribe and illuminator, active in Germany and northern Italy. Although more of his work has been identified than any other medieval Jewish artist–copyist’s, all that is known about him is culled from colophons in manuscripts that he either wrote or decorated. He lived in Cologne and Bonn; most of the manuscripts attributed to him are liturgical texts, especially Haggadot (see Haggadah). He usually named himself as the scribe of a manuscript, as in the following works: First Nuremberg Haggadah (Jerusalem, Schocken Lib., MS. 24086); First New York Haggadah (New York, Jew. Theol. Semin. America Lib., MS. Mic. 4481); a prayerbook dated 1449 (Parma, Bib. Palatina, MS. 3144); a prayerbook dated 1452/3 (Turin, Bib. N. U., MS. A. III. 14); a Haggadah (Cologny, Fond. Bodmer, MS. Cod. Bodmer 81); a prayerbook dated 1469 (London, BL, MS. Add. 26957); the Washington Haggadah, dated 1478 (Washington, DC, Lib. Congr., Hebr. MS. I); and David Kimhi’s commentary on the Psalms dated ...

Article

Mendel Metzger

Family of Jewish printers, active in Italy, Turkey and Egypt. They originated in Germany but emigrated to Lombardy and settled in Soncino near Crema in 1454, taking the name of the town as their patronymic. Their first printing press was set up in Soncino by Yoshua (d 1493) and Moses (d 1489), sons of Israel Nathan (d 1492?), a physician. The family was active between 1483, the date of Yoshua’s first book, and 1562, when the 184th and last publication was printed by his great-great-nephew in Cairo. Seven family members were printers: Yoshua, his brother Moses, Moses’s sons Solomon and Gershom [Hieronymus Soncinus] (d 1534), Gershom’s children Moses and Eliezer (d 1547) and Eliezer’s son Gershom (d 1562). Yoshua published only Hebrew books (42 editions, all incunabula) during his short career (1483–9 in Soncino, 1489–92 in Naples). Gershom’s career, however, was one of the longest (...

Article

Sopron  

Barbra Ruckriegel Egerváry

[formerly Lat. Scarbantia; Ger. Ödenburg]

City in north-west Hungary at the foot of the Lövér Hills. It is capital of Győr-Sopron county and was built on the site of the Roman Scarbantia, originally a Celtic settlement. Roman remains to be found in the area include a Mithraeum near Sopron-Rákos, and the possible remains of an amphitheatre, discovered in 1925. A medieval wall, of which sections still remain, ringed the town in the shape of a horseshoe. St Michael, one of the oldest churches, was built during the 14th century and completed in the later 15th. In the form of a basilica, it has three aisles and a narrow transept. Its Late Gothic towered façade is decorated with richly carved figures and ornamental work, as is its long chancel and square-ended side chancel. Gothic sedilia line the entire length of the chancel. The sacristy has reticulated vaulting and a tessellated, enamelled tiled floor from the late 15th century, the only one of its kind in Hungary....