Documents: 80, displayed: 41 - 60

Sub-project: Braginsky collection on e-codices

Start: December 2014

Status: In progress

Financed by: René and Susanne Braginsky Foundation

Description: The collection of Hebrew manuscripts of the Zurich collector René Braginsky is generally considered to be one of the largest private collections of Hebrew manuscripts in the world. It also contains a fair number of fine early printed books. The collection does not only contain codices from before and after the invention of printing, but also several hundred illuminated marriage contracts and Esther scrolls. In 2009, some hundred highlights from the collection were curated into a traveling exhibition, which was shown in Amsterdam, New York, Jerusalem, Zurich, and Berlin. Since 2014 e-codices is making documents of the collection online available. The project is generously supported by the René and Susanne Braginsky Foundation.

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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B314
Parchment · 100 pp. · 20.8 x 19 cm · [Frankfurt?], copied by Eliezer Sussman Mezeritsch, decorated by Charlotte von Rothschild · 1842
Passover Haggadah, with German tranlation (Charlotte Rothschild Haggadah)

This codex was copied by Eliezer Sussman Mezeritsch and illustrated by Charlotte Rothschild (1807-1859); in addition to the Hebrew text, it contains a German translation. The Haggadah was created by the artist for her uncle Amschel Mayer Rothschild on the occasion of his 70th birthday. This is the only Hebrew manuscript known to have been illuminated by a woman. Charlotte Rothschild was inspired by Christian and Jewish works, e.g., medieval manuscripts, the biblical cycle painted in the Vatican loggias by the workshop of Raphael and the copperplate engravings of the printed Amsterdam Haggadah of 1695. Charlotte Rothschild left her initials in only a single picture, the seder scene of the Passover celebration, on the back of a chair in the foreground of the picture (p. 42). This manuscript presumably served as model for the famous artist Moritz Daniel Oppenheim (1800-1882). In his memoirs he recalls that as a student he created sketches for Charlotte Rothschild. (red)

Online Since: 03/19/2015

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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B315
Parchment · 33 ff. · 33.5 x 23.5 cm · [France, copied and decorated by Victor Bouton] · [second half of the 19th century (around 1870?)]
Passover Haggadah, with ritual instructions in French (Bouton Haggadah)

Magnificent manuscript with the text of the Haggadah; each page is decorated with rich borders of floral elements and with pen drawings in gold and lapis lazuli surrounding the text. Stylistically the decoration closely emulates Persian miniatures, especially works from the school of Shiraz of the period between 1560 and 1580. The execution of this work is attributed to Victor Bouton, born 1819 in Lorraine and active in Paris as illustrator, heraldic painter and engraver. This attribution is based on another, also sumptuously decorated manuscript signed by the artist, which Edmond James de Rothschild had commissioned as a gift for his mother and which contains a biographical note that this artist had received the enormous sum of 32,000 gold francs from a wealthy Jew for a Haggadah. The only illustration (f. 1v) depicts the celebration on the first evening of Passover; a group of five men and two women in oriental dress sit a the Seder table while the master of the house is reciting the benediction over the wine. (red)

Online Since: 03/19/2015

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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B316
Parchment · 1 f. · 18.5 x 12.1 cm · Vienna, copied by Aaron Wolf Herlingen · 1751
Septem Psalmi Poenitentiales and Ps. 138

This calligram depicting King David playing a harp comprises the Latin text of what is known as the Seven Penitential Psalms (6, 31, 37, 50, 101, 129 and 142) and of Psalm 138. The calligram is signed by the well-known Jewish scribe-artist Aaron Wolf Herlingen, the creator of the Haggadah from 1725 (B284) in the Braginsky Collection. The artist used a technique in which text is written in miniscule letters, also known as micrography. Herlingen wrote this calligram for Prince Joseph II (1741-1790), the son of Empress Maria Theresa and Emperor Francis I. (red)

Online Since: 12/20/2016

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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B317
Parchment · 44 ff. · 28.5 x 20 cm · Altona, copied and decorated by Joseph ben David of Leipnik · 1739
Passover Haggadah with commentaries (Braginsky Leipnik Haggadah)

Until the Braginsky Leipnik Haggadah was acquired for the Braginsky Collection in 2007, this Haggadah was not known in scholarly literature. It was illustrated by Joseph ben David of Leipnik in 1739. Like most of the Haggadot at that time, this exemplar is largely dependent on the copper engravings of the printed Amsterdam Haggadot of 1695 and 1712. The characteristics of Joseph ben David’s illustrations, whose work is well-known, are rendered here in an exemplary manner. The color palette is dominated by subtle gradations of color and shades of pastel. Frequently recurring motifs in his Haggadot, based on older models, are the illustrations of the Paschal lamb, the matzah and the bitter herbs. Eating these is part of the feast of Passover, during which it is tradition to read the Haggadah together. (red)

Online Since: 03/19/2015

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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B318
Parchment · 18 ff. · 15.5 x 10.2 cm · written and illustrated by Nathan ben Simson of Meseritsch · 1728
Tikkun be-erew rosch chodesch (Prayers for the celebration on the evening before the beginning of the new moon)

This thin little book with a gilt embossed leather binding contains the prayers for the celebration on the evening before the new moon; it was commissioned by Elieser (Lazarus) von Geldern in Vienna. Following convention, the title page shows Moses and Aaron. The writer and illustrator Nathan ben Simson from Meseritsch (Velké Meziříčí) in Moravia was among the most prominent artists of illustrated Hebrew manuscripts in the first half of the 18th century. Between 1723 and 1739, he created at least 23 such works. (red)

Online Since: 12/20/2016

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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B327
Paper · 52 ff. · 8.2 x 5.8 cm · [Italy] · [around 1800]
Sefirat ha-Omer ("Counting of the Omer")

The "Counting of the Omer" is a blessing that takes place during the 49 days from the second day of Passover until the beginning of Shavuot. Omer denotes the first sheaf of the harvest that is offered as a sacrifice in the Temple in Jerusalem on the second day of Passover. Omer calendars were especially popular in the 18th century and were available in many different designs. This booklet is part of a group of a total of six similar Omer books in miniature format that can be dated to the late 18th and early 19th century. The silver binding has a monogram on the front cover and on the back cover it has an engraving of a stork-like bird with a stalk of wheat in its beak. The manuscript contains 50 illustrations that accompany almost every day of the calendar. (red)

Online Since: 03/19/2015

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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B328
Parchment · 1 + 20 ff. · 9.2 x 6 cm · Nikolsburg, [copied and illustrated by Samuel ben Zevi Hirsch Dresnitz] · 1725
Seder Birkat ha-mazon (Grace after Meals and other prayers and blessings)

This miniature book contains the Grace after Meals with the usual supplements for Hanukkah and Purim, as well as various blessings, such as the Shema prayer before retiring at night or for the enjoyment of certain things. The book has an illustrated title page, 19 individual illustrations, five decorated boxes containing individual letters or initial words and a decorated text passage. On the title page the artist did not record his name, but did note that the manuscript was created in Nikolsburg (Czechia) in 1725 during the reign of Emperor Charles VI. Like other Birkat ha-mason, this one, too, was written for a woman: a fly-leaf, added later, contains an elaborate ornament with a dedication to Fradche, wife of Moses Gundersheim. A comparison with the writing and illustrations in a similar work from 1728 in the Kongelige Bibliotek in Copenhagen (Cod. Hebr. XXXII) shows that both Birkat ha-mason manuscripts were created by the same artist, namely Samuel ben Zewi Hirsch Drenitz, who was active in Nikolsburg. (red)

Online Since: 12/20/2016

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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B331
Parchment · 83 ff. · 8.5 x 7.3 cm · Italy [Ancona or Pesaro?], [copied by Joseph ben Nissim Fermi?] · 17th century
Book on circumcision

This small-format manuscript from the 17th century contains hymnal prayers, poems and blessings for the circumcision ceremony. Two sections of the book contain illustrated pages. In addition to the title page, which is decorated with a Renaissance portal, there are eleven illustrations with biblical themes and four contemporary scenes regarding birth and circumcision. Several of these illustrations are influenced by Frederico Zuccaro (around 1540-1609) and Raphael. (red)

Online Since: 12/20/2016

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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B332
Parchment · 4 ff. · 23.5 x 16.8 cm · Padua · 1755
Doctoral diploma from the University of Padua for Israel Baruch Olmo

Until 1800, the University of Padua was the most important center for Jewish students, whereas the University of Bologna’s registers list no Jews. Doctoral diplomas served as an entrance ticket for Jewish doctors into the modern society of nobles and bourgeois. The University of Padua issued its graduates hand-written and decorated diplomas in Latin. The initial page of the diploma for Israel Baruch Olmo shows the emblem of the Olmo family: an elm, flanked by a bubbling fountain and a stalk of grain. (red)

Online Since: 12/20/2016

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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B344
Parchment · 39 ff. · 7.7 x 5.3 cm · Vienna, copied and illustrated by Aaron Wolf Herlingen [and Meschullam Simmel from Polná] · 1725
Seder Birkat ha-mazon (Grace after Meals and other prayers and blessings)

This miniature prayer book is the result of a unique collaboration of two of the most eminent Viennese representatives of 18th century Jewish book art. Aaron Wolf Herlingen wrote and illustrated the title page, Meschullam Simmel ben Moses from Polná created the other drawings and probably also wrote the prayer texts. Evidently this little book was a wedding present. The miniature prayer book contains a total of nine illustrations of the text as well as four richly decorated initial words. The prayer book belonged to the “respectable and wise maid Hindl”. The manuscript also contains entries regarding the birth of her children between 1719 and 1741. (red)

Online Since: 12/20/2016

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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B345
Parchment · 1085 pp. · 49.5 x 36 cm · [Germany] · 1355
Mishneh Torah

Over the more than 650 years that have passed since this manuscript of the Mishneh Torah was created, it has passed through many hands. Various annotations and citations indicate that important Ashkenazic rabbis hat access to the manuscript, for example Jakob Weil, a well-known 15th century scholar and rabbi in Nürnberg, Augsburg, Bamberg and Erfurt. Later notes of ownership make clear that the manuscript reached such distant places as the Ottoman Empire, England, Kurdistan and Jerusalem. The page 1021 of the Mischne Tora-manuscript presents a full-page illustration with decorated portal architecture in Gothic style. Two thin pillars, lengthened in Mannerist style, support a heavy tympanum, decorated with floral scrollwork on a blue background, in which gold letters spell out the chapter title Sefer schoftim (“Book of Judges”). There are five medallions, two of which show the silhouette of an attacking bird of prey. (red)

Online Since: 03/22/2017

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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B350
Parchment · 25 ff. · 35.7 x 26.8 cm · Hamburg, copied by Elieser Sussman Meseritsch · 1829
Haggadah, with German translation by Wolf Heidenheim

The writer of this Haggadah was none other than Elieser Sussman Meseritsch, named after his place of origin in Moravia, who later also copied the text of the Charlotte Rotschild Haggadah. By using three different types of writing, he clearly distinguishes three types of texts: the Hebrew text of the Haggadah, the classical Hebrew commentary by Simeon ben Zemach Duran (1361-1444), and a German translation in Hebrew letters by Wolf Heidenheim (1757-1832). The iconographic program of the Elieser Sussmann Meseritsch Haggadah is very unusual. The title page presents an architectural design of triumphal arches, where various ornamental motifs in classicist style are creatively joined together. The first four (5v-7r) of seven illustrated scenes show the four sons mentioned in the Haggadah, with one illustration dedicated to each of them; the one for the son who does not know to ask is particularly original. The next two illustrations – the crossing of the Red Sea (12r) and King David with the harp (15v) – are rather conventional. The last scene with the reconstruction of the Temple in Jerusalem as usual accompanies the text of the Adir hu (“Almighty God, rebuild your Temple soon!”). (red)

Online Since: 12/20/2016

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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, B351
Parchment · 26 ff. · 10.5 x 7.2 cm · Hamburg and Altona, copied and illustrated by Jakob ben Juda Leib Schammasch · 1741
Seder Birkat ha-mazon (Grace after Meals and other prayers and blessings)

Until it was acquired by the Braginsky Collection, this little book with the Birkat ha-mason from 1741 had not been known to research. Clearly it had originally been meant for a woman, probably as a wedding present. In addition to the title page with an architectural frame and the figures of Moses and Aaron, there are six more illustrations in the text, among them a very rare depiction of a woman only partially immersed in a ritual bath (12v) and also a rather conventional depiction of a woman reading the Shema prayer before retiring at night (17r). This little book was copied and illustrated by Jakob ben Juda Leib Schammasch from Berlin. He is known as one of the most productive Jewish manuscript artists in Northern Germany. (red)

Online Since: 12/20/2016

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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, K21
Parchment · 1 f. · 66.6 x 56.7 cm · Gibraltar · 1822
Ketubah (כתובה), Gibraltar, 4 Tevet 5583 (December 18, 1822)

At the time this ketubah was produced, most of the Gibraltar’s retail trade was conducted by the local Sephardic community; many of its members came from the adjacent parts of North Africa. The present Gibraltar contract belongs to an early period of local ketubah decoration, although some of its features foretell later developments. The upper section depicts a pair of lions crouched back-to-back, overlaid with circles containing the abbreviated Ten Commandments. The composition is reminiscent of the top of Torah arks, and indeed it is topped with a crown, intended as a Torah Crown. The crouching lions are flanked by vases of flowers. In the side borders, beneath theatrical drapery and trumpets suspended from ribbons, fanciful column bases are surmounted by urns. Several elements in the marriage contract are characteristic of Gibraltar ketubot. The initial word of the wedding day, Wednesday, as was common, is enlarged and ornamented. Also typical of Gibraltar is the ornamental Latin monogram at bottom center. Comprising the letters SJB, it refers to the bridal couple’s first (Solomon, Judith) and last (Benoleil) initials. (red)

Online Since: 03/22/2017

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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, K26
Parchment · 1 f. · 69.3 cm x 59.2 cm · [Gibraltar] · [ca. 1830-50]
Ketubah (כתובה), Gibraltar, ca. 1830-50

The concept of the written document for marriage, known as ketubah (pl. ketubot), lent itself to some popular Jewish customs, including the creation of allegorical marriage contracts for Shavuot. As the holiday marks the Giving of the Law, mystical traditions asserted that on this day Moses, as the matchmaker, brought the Jewish people (the bridegroom) to Mount Sinai (the wedding place) to marry God or the Torah (the bride). While several versions of ketubot for Shavuot are known, the most popular in Sephardic communities has been the poetic text composed by the renowned mystic of Safed, Rabbi Israel Najara (1555?–1625?). Divided into three sections, the special text of this Braginsky Collection ketubah appears within an imposing wooden architectural setting, comprising three arches and a broken pediment, within which is a crowned Decalogue. The upper story employs a dynamic rhythm of decorative architectural elements. The entire structure resembles a typical Sephardic Torah ark (ehal) from the synagogues in Gibraltar. Indeed, the name of one of these synagogues, Nefuzot Yehudah, founded 1799, appears at the top. (red)

Online Since: 10/13/2016

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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, K29
Parchment · 1 f. · 80.8 x 54.3 cm · Ancona · 1789
Ketubah (כתובה), Ancona, 14 Tishri 5550 (October 4, 1789)

This marriage contract was made in one of the most important Jewish communities of Italy, the Adriatic seaport of Ancona, which also was a leading center of ketubbah illustrations. The main episode at top center, depicts the prophet Elijah ascending to heaven, riding in his fiery horse-drawn chariot, while his amazed disciple, Elisha, watches below. This scene thus refers to the bridegroom’s first name Elia. The other two biblical episodes appear in the cartouches at the center of each of the side borders. At right, the scene of the Triumph of Mordecai, refers to the second name of the bridegroom, Mordecai. Depicted at left is the scene of David holding the head of Goliath; it is to be understood as a reference to the bride’s father, David Camerino. (red)

Online Since: 03/22/2017

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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, K37
Parchment · 1 f. · 40.3 x 33.3 cm · Amsterdam · 1668
Ketubah (כתובה), Amsterdam, 2 Nisan 5428 (14 March 1668)

The practice of decorating marriage contracts was revived in early seventeenth-century Amsterdam under the influence of Italian ketubah artists. In the late 1640s, the well-known Jewish engraver Shalom Italia created a copper engraving for ketubot of the Spanish-Portuguese community, which subsequently inspired an anonymous local artist to create a new modified version of this border, present in this Braginsky Collection ketubah of 1668. For more than two hundred years this border adorned Sephardic ketubot produced in Hamburg, Bayonne, London, New York and Curaçao.The calligraphic text commemorates the marriage of a known Sephardic physician, Daniel Tzemah Aboab. (red)

Online Since: 03/22/2017

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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, K40
Parchment · 1 f. · 69.2 x 46 cm · Ancona · 1795
Ketubah (כתובה), Ancona, 13 Adar 5555 (4 March 1795)

This decorated ketubah, as well as Braginsky Collection K29 produced just six years earlier, represent the height of ketubah illustration in Ancona. The text of this ketubah is centered under the arch supported by a pair of ornamental columns. While arches were commonly used as framing devices in ketubah decorations since the earliest known ketubot from the Cairo Genizah, the gold letters inscribed here against the blue spandrels provide an additional meaning. The six square Hebrew letters, an acronym for Psalms 118:20: “This is the gate of the Lord, through which the righteous may enter”, signify that the bridal couple is symbolically passing through the heavenly gate into a sanctified stage in their life. A depiction of the sacrifice of Isaac, an allusion to the bridegroom whose second name is Isaac, is located in a cartouche at the top center. This scene, a symbol of faithfulness and messianic promise that appears on many italian ketubot, has been the most popular biblical story in Jewish art over the ages. The female figure beneath has not been identified so far. (red)

Online Since: 03/22/2017

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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, K41
Parchment · 1 f. · 74 x 45.8 cm · Rome · 1798
Ketubah (כתובה), Rome, 22 Sivan 5558 (6 June 1798)

The ornamentation of this ketubah, which commemorates a wedding between two important families of the Roman ghetto, Toscano and Di Segni, reflects the golden age of ketubah decoration in Rome. The decorative frame is divided into inner and outer borders. Panels adorned with flowers on painted gold fields flank the sides of the text. In the outer frames, crisscrossed micrographic inscriptions form diamond-shaped spaces, each of which contains a large flower. The design in the inner and the outer frames are surrounded by minuscule square Hebrew letters, presenting the entire four chapters of the book of Ruth. (red)

Online Since: 03/22/2017

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Zürich, Braginsky Collection, K44
Parchment · 1 f. · 84 x 46.8 cm · Rome · August 17, 1763
Ketubah (כתובה), Rome, 8 Elul 5523 (August 17, 1763)

The Roman ketubot (sing. ketubah), the Jewish marriage contracts, in general are distinguished by their elegant Hebrew calligraphy, decorative designs, and attractive appearance. The most popular decorative themes include biblical episodes, allegorical representations, and delicate micrographic designs. The contractual text of this Braginsky Collection ketubah is surrounded by an architectural frame featuring a pair of marble columns entwined by gold leaves and topped with Corinthian capitals. A large cartouche rests on the arch supported by the columns. In it is a pastoral landscape in which stand a man wearing a long robe and a bare-breasted woman, joined around their neck by a long chain of pearls with a heart-shaped pendant. Enhancing the allusion of matrimonial harmony are family emblems of the bridal couple that appear next to each other in a cartouche above the central allegorical image. The emblem at the right, above the central allegorical image, depicting a rampant lion climbing a palm tree, is that of the groom's family, Caiatte, whereas the emblem at the left, portraying a rampant lion touching a white column, belongs to the family of the bride, De Castro. Finally, the influence of Italian culture is demonstrated in the cartouche at the bottom, with the depiction of Cupid lying next to his bow and quiver. (red)

Online Since: 10/13/2016

Documents: 80, displayed: 41 - 60