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Decorated Hebrew Bible: (Pentateuch: Shemot-Devarim) Yemen: Early Fifteenth Century
Estimate
150,000250,000
LOT SOLD. 187,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT
3
Decorated Hebrew Bible: (Pentateuch: Shemot-Devarim) Yemen: Early Fifteenth Century
Estimate
150,000250,000
LOT SOLD. 187,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

The Valmadonna Trust Library: Part I Magnificent Manuscripts and the Bomberg Talmud

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New York

Decorated Hebrew Bible: (Pentateuch: Shemot-Devarim) Yemen: Early Fifteenth Century
334 pages [167 leaves] (10 1/4 x 8 in.; 260 x 203 mm). Black and colored inks on burnished paper; blind-ruled. Biblical text in bold Yemenite square Hebrew script with nikud (vowel points) and cantillation marks throughout; text in two columns of 17 lines to the page;surrounded by Masoretic notes in Yemenite semicursive script above and below text as well as in outer margins of each column; modern pagination in pencil. collation:169, 17-2010, 219, 228, 23-2510, 268, 27-3010, 318, 3210, 335; lacking quires 1-15. Text comprises Exodus 40:36 to Deuteronomy 32:18; lacking Genesis, Exodus 1-40:36, and Deuteronomy 32:18-34:12. Profusely decorated in colored inks (primarily red-orange, yellow, and blue), with stylized birds, shrubs or trees of varying sizes, flowers, and strapwork motifs; framed decorative Masoretic tailpieces following Exodus (p.1) Leviticus (p.95) Numbers (p.229); two whole-page decorative frames encircling text (pp.333-334); decorations on p. 280 uncolored; blue inks frequently viridescent. First and last ten leaves inlaid; remargined throughout with some marginal decoration and masoretic notes occasionally cropped; internal tears carefully treated with Japanese tissue throughout; occasional minor losses to text (a character or a word or two); some text rubbed; large waterstain on p. 142, waterdrop stains, pp. 70–71. Lightly soiled throughout. Brown morocco antique paneled in blind, the spine in eight compartments with raised bands and gilt lettering in two compartments. Morocco-tipped brick cloth slipcase; one side split.
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Provenance

(1)  David Solomon Sassoon (stamp on p. 6 and his sale, Sotheby Parke Bernet, 12 May 1981, lot 12)

(2)  Valmadonna Trust Library, MS 7 

Literature

Benjamin Richler, Hebrew Manuscripts in the Valmadonna Trust Library (Jerusalem, 1998), no. 5, pp. 8–9;

David Solomon Sassoon, Ohel Dawid, Descriptive Catalogue of the Hebrew and Samaritan Manuscripts (Oxford, 1932),  Vol. I, no. 49, p. 24;

[C. Abramsky], Important Hebrew and Samaritan Manuscripts from the Collection formed by the Late David Solomon Sassoon (New York, 1981), no. 12;

Brad Sabin Hill, Manuscripts and Early Printed Books from the Library of the Valmadonna Trust; an exhibition at the Pierpont Morgan Library (New York, 1989), no. 4;

L.A. Meyer, "Jewish Art in the Moslem World," in C. Roth (ed.), Jewish Art, (London, 1971), pp. 132–136, pl. 163.

Catalogue Note

A FINE AND PROFUSELY DECORATED YEMENITE PENTATEUCH

The earliest Hebrew manuscript illuminations appeared in the Near East and surviving examples, from the ninth to the thirteenth centuries, usually paralleled prevailing trends in contemporary Islamic art. Following the decline of  the Palestinian, Egyptian and Syrian schools of  illumination by the fourteenth century, the Yemenite school developed in the fifteenth century and flourished. 

Called the Keter in Hebrew and the Taj in Arabic, or "Crown," the Pentateuch was the most popular part of the Yemenite Bible, and was often prepared as an independent volume. This Pentateuch resembles other Yemenite Bibles of the period with its square, bold script. It is, however, quite remarkable in its profusion of rustic decoration, employing stylized representations of birds, flowers, and shrubs or trees, as well as various geometric patterns. Nevertheless, it remains consistent with Oriental Hebrew manuscript tradition, studiously avoiding all manner of textual illustration. 

The Valmadonna Trust Library: Part I Magnificent Manuscripts and the Bomberg Talmud

|
New York