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Katrin Kogman-Appel

Hebrew Bible (Jerusalem, National.. Library of Israel., MS. Heb 4°790, and a single page in Toledo, El Transito Synagogue and Sephardic Museum), copied c. 1260, perhaps in Toledo by Menachem ben Abraham ibn Malikh for Isaac bar Abraham Hadad, both members of known and documented Toledan families. At some later stage further decorations were added, apparently in Burgos. The Damascus Keter is an outstanding exemplar out of approximately 120 decorated Bibles from Iberia and belongs to a group of three very similar codices from the middle of the 13th century, produced in Toledo. It thus represents a rich tradition of Jewish art flourishing between the 13th and the 15th centuries. These Bibles were used either by scholars for private study, or for biblical readings during synagogue services.

Typical of numerous Bibles from the Middle East and the Iberian Peninsula, the decoration consists of numerous carpet pages executed in Micrography and enriched by painted embellishments. This is a technique typically used in Hebrew decorated books and harks back to Middle Eastern manuscripts of the 10th century. Apart from the carpet pages, the Damascus ...

Article

Thérèse Metzger

(b ?Soria, Old Castile; fl c. 1300–12).

Spanish scribe and illuminator of Jewish origin. He worked at Tudela, Navarre, and at Soria, Castile. His colophons allow his hand to be securely identified in five manuscript Bibles. In one case (1306; Oxford, Bodleian Lib., MS. Kenn. 2), he used a conventional colophon; elsewhere, he concealed clues either in the painted illuminations (1302; Paris, Bib. N., MS. hébr. 21) or, more frequently, in the micrography and ornamental forms of the masorah (apparatus criticus; see Micrography) that he copied (Dublin, Trinity Coll. Lib., MS. 16; Lisbon, Bib. N., MS. Il.72, dated 1300; Paris, Bib. N., MS. hébr. 20, dated 1300; and a single page of the Paris Bible of 1302; see also Jewish art, §V, 1).

From the formulae and placing of Joshua’s different colophons, it is possible to deduce the extent and nature of his contribution to the copying and illumination of the manuscripts he signed. As a copyist, writing in square script, he probably worked on the ...

Article

Katrin Kogman-Appel

Richly illuminated manuscript of the Passover liturgy together with a series of liturgical poems to be read during the Passover week (London, BL, Add. MS. 27210), possibly made in Barcelona, c. 1320. This text was to be recited during the seder ceremony at the eve of the Passover holiday. Like most medieval Haggadot (see Haggadah), the Golden Haggadah has no colophon, and its scribe and patrons are unknown. It contains both marginal decorations and a series of full-page miniatures preceding the text and displaying a fully fledged cycle of biblical illustrations following the books of Genesis and Exodus from the Creation of Man to the Crossing of the Red Sea. Stylistically both types of decoration are indebted to early 14th-century Catalan Gothic art.

Similarly, the imagery of the biblical picture cycle also draws on Christian Old Testament iconography and reflects a familiarity with Christian art. The artists and patrons of the Golden Haggadah adopted Christian pictorial sources in a complex process of adaptation and modification, translating the Christian models into a Jewish visual language meaningful in its messages to the Jewish readership. Avoiding themes and iconographic features of a particular Christological concern, the imagery also reflects a close affinity with the traditions of late antique Bible interpretation (Midrash). This points to a specific circle of scholars active in Iberia during the 13th and early 14th centuries as being responsible for the imagery of the cycle. The use of traditional midrashic Bible exegesis is typical for Sephardic Rabbis of anti-rationalist standing, who opposed earlier philosophical trends and followed, rather, scholarly trends common among the Tosafists of northern France. It has also been observed that some images adopt a more specific anti-Christian stance and address polemical issues....

Article

(fl c.?Tudela, Navarre, and/or ?Soria, Old Castile, 1300–12).

Spanish illuminator of Jewish origin. His signature, a full-page colophon in zoomorphic and anthropomorphic characters, is found in only one manuscript, the Cervera Bible (1299–1300; Lisbon, Bib. N., MS. Il.72; see also Jewish art §V 1.). However, another Bible (1312; Zurich, Floersheim Col., previously MS. Sassoon 82) could also be his work. Since the text of the Cervera Bible was copied in Cervera, Lleida, it has been generally supposed that Joseph trained in an illuminator’s workshop in that city. However, the connection with Cervera might be accidental (Metzger, 1970), while there are demonstrable links with Tudela and Soria, where Joshua ben Abraham ibn Gaon and another scribe copied the masorah (apparatus criticus) after May 1300. The decorative painting and penwork were executed in their entirety only after the masorah had been copied (Metzger, ‘Josué ben Abraham ibn Gaon … ’, 1990). The confirmed associations between Joseph and Joshua, whose brother ...

Article

Katrin Kogman-Appel

[Mahzor]

Illuminated Hebrew Machzor (Leipzig, Ubib., MS. Voller 1002/I–II)—prayer book for holy days—made c. 1310–20. Its two volumes contain the optional liturgical poems commonly recited according to the Ashkenazi rites. The text reflects the specific prayer rite of Worms and, even though this assumption cannot be confirmed by a colophon, it must have served this particular community up to the early 17th century when it was transferred to Poland.

Both volumes are richly illustrated in a style that recalls upper Rhenish schools of illumination and may have been decorated by artists trained in that region. At least two different hands, one of them most probably Christian, were involved in the layout of the book. The decorative programme includes elaborate initial panels and marginal images. The former display complex allegorical and symbolic compositions relating to the poems or the subject matter of the holy days. An example is the juxtaposition of various symbols related to the New Year showing a man with a Jewish hat blowing a ...

Article

Katrin Kogman-Appel

Illuminated manuscript of the Passover liturgy to be recited during the seder ceremony at the eve of the Passover holiday, also containing a series of liturgical poems to be read during the Passover week (Sarajevo, N. Mus of Bosnia and Herzegovina.), possibly made in Aragon, c. 1335. Its particularly rich decoration combines French-style marginal scroll decoration with a cycle of full-page miniatures showing biblical history. The latter opens with a visual rendering of the Creation, a theme rarely shown in Jewish art, and follows the story of the Israelites up to the passage through the desert after the Exodus from Egypt.

Like other Sephardic biblical picture cycles, the one in the Sarajevo Haggadah is indebted to Christian pictorial sources, especially of French origin, adapted to suit a Jewish patronage and readership. Jewish biblical exegesis plays a crucial role in the transmission of Christian iconographic formulae to a Jewish idiom. The Creation sequence, for example, reflects Nahmanides’ views of the Creation from Nothing opposing allegorical views about the eternal world held by rationalist philosophers. Likewise midrashic interpretation is dominant in the Sarajevo cycle, where midrashic elements were added to what were really Christian iconographic models....