This extraordinary Esther scroll is a superior example of the sumptuously decorated Hebrew ritual and liturgical texts created by Jewish artisans who flourished in the Italian port city of Ancona. From the mid-18th through the early 19th centuries, these artists perfected the highly-specialized technique of excising bits of parchment from a megilla or ketubbah, thus creating an intricately patterned cutout frame that dramatically enhanced the surrounding text. In this scroll, the intricately designed border features cut-out floral patterns above and below the text, interspersed with animated birds and butterflies. Additionally, the artist has carefully hand-colored the designs to further embellish the exacting presentation. As indicated by the labor-intensive process required to create such an elaborate border, this scroll was a luxury object, one that would have been reserved for the wealthiest of patrons. Very few Italian pierced parchment scrolls remain today. This scroll was at one time held in the celebrated Gustave Tuck Judaica Collection, and sold in our London rooms in September, 2000; a highly similar scroll was sold in our Tel Aviv rooms in October, 2002.
European Ceramics, Glass, Silver, Vertu and Portrait Miniatures: Sotheby's London, September 12 and 14, 2000, lot 470; Important Judaica, Sotheby’s Tel Aviv, October 25, 2002, lot 202.
Gustave Tuck Judaica Collection